Gov. Wolf Starts to Reopen Economy as State Legislature Debates Additional COVID-19 Bills
Gov. Wolf sets date for all construction projects to restart, allows for immediate online auto sales and curbside pickup of wine and spirits.

In addition, the governor announced that public and private residential and non-residential construction may resume across the state starting Friday, May 8. The projects would need to be in accordance with safety guidance that will be issued by the administration shortly. The administration said that construction projects already deemed life-sustaining may continue while adhering to social distancing, personnel limits and other guidance as announced by the administration.

The governor also announced that Pennsylvania's current "stay-at-home" order will extend until May 8. Last week, Gov. Wolf said that Pennsylvania was not yet ready to follow New York State's example and extend its quarantine efforts beyond April 30. Earlier last week, New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, extended its state's 'stay-at-home' order until May 15.

As the governor announced his three actions to slowly reopen the state's economy as part of his "Plan for Pennsylvania," both the state House and Senate were in session today addressing additional COVID-19-related proposals. The General Assembly and the governor have been at odds over the best and safest way to reopen businesses and other activities deemed "non-life-sustaining" by the administration. Wolf vetoed Senate Bill 613 on Monday, a bill that would have reopened businesses throughout the state based primarily on federal guidelines and recommendations.

During his remarks on Friday, Gov. Wolf said the state's aggressive mitigation efforts have been successful in flattening the curve in Pennsylvania. This success has allowed the administration to establish the reopening plan that will stabilize the economy while protecting all Pennsylvanians. Wolf said the plan to reopen will be data-driven, and the administration will work with economic and public health experts to utilize local, regional and federal resources. The governor's plan was met with mixed reactions from legislative and business leaders across the state.

On Monday, the Pennsylvania House and Senate continued to debate additional COVID-19 measures. Even with the governor's announcement today, the House moved legislation, House Bill 2388, to require the Department of Community and Economic Development to issue a waiver to the governor's business closure order to allow all car dealerships to reopen. The Senate also positioned legislation, Senate Bill 1108, that would allow the state to utilize federal funding for COVID-19 related programs for the state's aging and veteran populations.

The House also positioned Senate Bill 327, legislation that includes language to allow county governments to make COVID-19 mitigation plans and reopen certain businesses within its borders based on CDC guidelines. The bill was opposed by Democrats when it passed the Senate last week, who claimed it would reduce the governor's ability to act swiftly and limit the administration's flexibility during the crisis.

In a House Rules Committee meeting late Monday, House Republican leaders added language to the bill to allow for emergency regulatory tolling during, and 90-days after, the governor's declaration of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The House could take the bill up on final passage as early as Tuesday.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The state Department of Health reported nearly 950 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 33,232. In addition, 1,204 Pennsylvanians have died directly from complications from the virus. To date, there have been nearly 130,000 negative cases across the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf is still asking all Pennsylvanians who must leave their homes for life-essential reasons to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the virus . The state Department of Health has provided guidance on how individuals can create homemade masks for their use in order to preserve high quality personal protection equipment for health care workers. The Centers for Disease Control also announced recommendations for people to wear face masks in public .

An executive order issued on April 15 requires customers entering a place of business to wear a mask.
Other News...
Pa. Health Department releases new FAQs on expanded safety orders. In response to mounting questions regarding the Secretary of Health's order last week expanding safety guidelines for employers and employees of life-sustaining businesses operating in Pennsylvania, the Department of Health issued a new, nine-page FAQ document to help businesses adhere to the order. The FAQ sheet answers critical questions, including how to best handle customers who violate the order, how long employers must conduct temperature checks, and other significant issues.

Additional federal relief for small businesses, hospitals and COVID-19 testing may soon come from Washington D.C. Congressional leade rs and the White House are close to another federal relief deal, one that will provide funding for small businesses, hospitals and expanded coronavirus testing . The new aid package is expected to reach $450 billion in funding, nearly double the $250 billion that President Donald Trump requested.

Pro bono services increase for McNees lawyers. In the latest edition of abc27's McNees Minute, McNees Chairman Brian Jackson talks about the firm’s commitment to pro bono services to small business and non-profit organizations throughout Central Pennsylvania.

OSHA offer guidance on workplace compliance obligations during COVID-19. Businesses throughout the state have been forced to take unprecedented steps to address ongoing disruptions in response to COVID-19. During this unprecedented time, it may be near impossible for businesses to comply with recurring compliance obligations, such as annual trainings, inspections, and audits required by federal standards. McNees attorneys discuss new guidance issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on April 17 that may provide employers with some degree of relief.
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.

As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group , or for government relations assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) . You can also visit the McNees COVID-19 Article & Resource Page for more information on various legal and political issues created by the novel coronavirus.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC's coronavirus information page or visit .

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