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BREAKING: Gov. Wolf orders statewide shutdown over coronavirus

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The Investigator

Special edition on the state's response to the coronavirus

March 16, 2020 | spotlightpa.org

Gov. Tom Wolf today announced a statewide shutdown for two weeks in response to the growing number of cases of the coronavirus, COVID-19. As a service to our readers, we're sending this special edition of The Investigator to provide details of the shutdown and what residents can expect tomorrow.

We have a collaborative team of reporters working nonstop to bring you the latest on the state government's response to this pandemic. We provide all of this journalism for free to any news organization across the state. If you value this service, please consider making a tax-deductible donation now.

Stay tuned for our regular edition and riddler Thursday.

Christopher Baxter, Spotlight PA


"Please stay calm, stay safe, stay home."

— Gov. Tom Wolf, on his decision to shut down nonessential businesses across Pennsylvania in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases


Everything you need to know about the shutdown

What is the statewide shutdown?
Gov. Tom Wolf ordered nonessential businesses in all 67 counties to shut down as of midnight. The order will be in place for two weeks but will constantly be reviewed in case changes must be made.

What is a "nonessential" business?
According to the governor's office, nonessential businesses include community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; bars; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities including shopping malls.

What will not close?
Essential government and medical services will continue, and pharmacies, grocery stores, health care facilities, and gas stations should stay open.

Am I allowed to leave home?
Wolf urged residents to use common sense. If they must leave home for food or prescriptions, they should do so, but people should otherwise limit travel.

What about bars and restaurants?
Bars and restaurants can only provide carry-out or delivery. Wolf has barred any dine-in eating.

What about liquor stores?
All state-run liquor stores will indefinitely close as of 9 p.m. Tuesday. Grocery stores will still be able to sell beer and wine.

What about casinos?
All casinos in the state will be closed as of 6 a.m. Tuesday.

What about day care centers?
Wolf said day care centers must close.

What about schools?
Wolf previously ordered all schools in the state to be closed for at least two weeks.

How will the order be enforced?
Wolf said the administration expects voluntary compliance and will not be using law enforcement to ensure the order is followed.

What else do I need to know?

  • The PA Turnpike will not accept cash/credit at ticket-system toll plazas starting Monday at 8 p.m. All tolls will be temporarily collected via E-ZPass or "toll by plate."
  • The state Supreme Court declared a statewide judicial emergency until April 14, 2020, during which county president judges can, among other changes, restrict or temporarily close court facilities and authorize using technology to conduct court proceedings.
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