PA Gov. Wolf Threatens ‘Consequences’ for Counties Defying Lockdown Orders

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks on stage during the Geisinger National Symposium, "From
Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Geisinger Symposium

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Monday outlined a broad list of potential “consequences” for counties and businesses that refuse to obey his lockdown orders. The warning follows his admission that he has not asked Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) to interfere in areas that are moving ahead in violation of the lockdown orders.

“I won’t sit back and watch residents who live in counties under Stay at Home orders get sick because local leaders cannot see the risks of #COVID19 and push to reopen prematurely,” Wolf said on social media following his press conference.

“Today I am announcing consequences for counties that do not abide by the law to remain closed,” he continued, reiterating some of the vague threats he outlined during his presser.

Counties that opt to proceed in reopening outside of the governor’s plan “won’t be eligible for federal stimulus discretionary funds,” Wolf said, noting that those funds will instead go to obedient counties.

So far, Wolf has only allowed 24 counties to move into the restrictive yellow phase. Thirteen other counties can join them Friday, May 15.

“Businesses should know that opening in counties that don’t abide by the law will potentially jeopardize their business liability insurance or the protections it provides,” Wolf continued in his threats.

Restaurants that opt to offer dine-in services in defiance of the orders “will risk receiving a citation,” the governor declared.

“These citations can ultimately lead to the loss of a restaurant’s liquor license,” he warned.

Currently, no restaurants are permitted to offer dine-in services, as the Wolf’s yellow phase of reopening explicitly states that restaurants and bars are “Limited to Carry-Out and Delivery Only.”

Wolf also attempted to empathize with workers, stating, “If your county reopens prematurely and you don’t feel comfortable returning to work, rest assured that the commonwealth will allow you to continue to receive unemployment compensation, even if your employer reopens.”

The dangers associated with the coronavirus are “present,” he continued, proclaiming that they are winning but, as he did during his press conference, accused those who seek to reopen as acting in “a most cowardly way”:

Several county leaders have vowed to begin reopening, despite their red phase status, which bars “non-life essential” businesses from operating. A number of district attorneys have said that their offices will not prosecute businesses violating Wolf’s order.

Despite the governor’s tough talk, Wolf admitted on Monday that has not urged the state’s attorney general to take action.

“No, I have not–nor do I intend to,” Wolf said.

Nonetheless, Shapiro is defending the governor’s actions.

“The PA Constitution gives the Governor broad emergency power & his actions have been ruled constitutional multiple times,” he began.

“In one of its rulings, the PA Supreme Court wrote the Governor’s actions to prevent the spread of #COVID-19 are ‘reasonably tailored to the nature of the emergency,'” he continued, adding that they “emphasized that the Governor is ’empowered to ‘issue, amend and rescind executive orders, proclamations and regulations which shall have the force and effect of law.'”

“Further, the Supreme Court of the United States has also rejected a call to intervene and issue a stay,” Shapiro added:


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