The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office will not prosecute any citations related to Gov. Tom Wolf's stay-at-home order, a press release said Sunday.
The announcement came shortly after Lancaster County officials announced the county would be moving from red — the most restrictive of all of Wolf's phases — to yellow on May 15, with or without the governor's permission.
The district attorney's office said Wolf's orders were "continuously changing," which made it difficult for the office to define what is considered criminal conduct.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and administrative orders from our state officials have placed law-enforcement all across Pennsylvania in uncharted waters,” District Attorney Heather Adams said. “Our interpretation of existing law in balance with the constantly shifting definitions of what is and is not allowed, per these orders, brought us to this informed decision: we will not prosecute.”
The Attorney General's Office said that Wolf's actions are constitutional and backed up by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Attorney General's Office did not specify whether it would uphold Wolf's orders if local law enforcement did not.
The office reported that police departments throughout Lancaster County have reported less than 10 violations of Wolf's orders, and said that many of those citations were in response to non-compliant parties who were warned several times.
Adams spoke with all municipal police chiefs in Lancaster County Sunday to alert them that citations won't be prosecuted, the release said. The Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association agreed with the office's stance on enforcement.
Police will continue to educate and instruct residents and businesses to follow guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the release said.
"The safety and security of residents is the number one purpose and top priority of government," the district attorney's office said. "Our office takes that duty very seriously while considering the law as well as its fair and just enforcement."
While the attorney's office will not prosecute any criminal charges, the release said it has no opinion or position on civil or administrative penalties that might be used on any business found to be violating Wolf's orders.