Editor's note: Gov. Tom Wolf announced that enforcement of his order to shut down all non-life-sustaining businesses will begin on Monday, March 23, at 8 a.m.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Thursday issued an order that all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania should close their physical locations as of 8 a.m. on March 23.
The move has been met with confusion, concern and criticism by businesses and business advocates.
Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs president and CEO Matthew J. Brouillette in a statement said that his organization shared the governor’s commitment to saving lives and protecting the health of all Pennsylvanians, but did not agree with the governor’s order.
“In times of uncertainty and crisis, operations that protect and sustain our supply chain are particularly essential," Brouillette's statement said. "The governor’s list of mandated closures appears not to take this into account, instead shuttering some operations while allowing others to continue. We are not aware of how he compiled his list, as none of Pennsylvania’s statewide associations representing thousands of businesses and employees were consulted."
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a small business association with 13,000 members in Pennsylvania, issued a news release Thursday night saying it is extremely concerned and wants to better understand the medical basis for Wolf's decision.
“We understand that there are necessary precautions that must be taken to protect life, but no other governor, even in states with many more cases and wider community spread, has taken this extreme action,” said Gordon Denlinger, state director of NFIB in Pennsylvania in the news release. “We want to know the basis for Gov. Wolf’s decision and whether it is justified by specific CDC directives. That’s because the economic impact on businesses and their employees will be massive, and they are much less likely to ever recover.”
The Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association also issued a statement Thursday night.
“First, as Governor Wolf should have learned through the National Governor’s Association, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has asked America’s governors to designate ALL ‘manufacturing facilities, supply chains and their employees as “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses” to assure clear, consistent and more uniformly aligned guidance to businesses as our nation responds to the COVID19 pandemic,’ said a statement from the association's president and CEO David N. Taylor.
"The governor’s order is in direct contradiction to the guidance issued earlier today by the Cyber-Security and Infrastructure Security Agency," Taylor's statement continued. It also said the governor's two hours’ notice "fails to recognize the physical reality of modern industrial practices. For example, some of our manufacturers have industrial furnaces that must be kept hot; telling them to immediately shut down operations means permanently damaging or destroying those industrial facilities. To fight this pandemic, America will need all of our industrial capacity. A panicked order to suspend all operations is wasteful and ill-considered."
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry in a statement Friday echoed concerns about supply chain.
“We are working with the administration to seek further clarification and modification of the order and will be providing updates to the state’s broad-based business community as we receive them. We will be posting updates on our website, www.PAChamber.org,” the chamber's statement said.
In addition to the business groups, Congressman Lloyd Smucker (R-11) tweeted that he was asking Wolf to provide clarification on his order.
Read my statement below regarding Gov. Wolf's shutdown order for non-life-sustaining businesses. pic.twitter.com/Abv1JmaqSJ— Rep. Lloyd Smucker (@RepSmucker) March 20, 2020