UPDATE: Latest on Gov. Wolf's Closure Order Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
As detailed in a special edition of Capitol Buzz issued on Thursday evening, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all “non-life-sustaining” businesses throughout Pennsylvania to physically close their operations in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The new directive, which went into effect at 8 p.m. on Thursday evening, contains the threat of enforcement action against businesses that do not comply with the order by 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, including fines, license suspensions and potential forfeiture of current or new state funding.
The governor’s abrupt action on Thursday evening faced severe criticism from Republican members of the state’s General Assembly. In a statement released late Thursday evening, Senate Republican leaders said they believe that all businesses are life-sustaining to someone, whether it be employers or employees. They called the governor’s action a “unilateral decision” that will severely impact Pennsylvania businesses, especially small businesses, who are and will continue to face significant economic challenges ahead due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
House Republican leaders also admonished the governor’s announcement Thursday night, saying the governor “set off a panic” with an ill-prepared and hasty decision that will immediately impact every worker in the state and have major, long-term economic ramifications. House Republicans also said they will examine the order in more detail and determine whether the governor’s actions are allowed within the state’s Constitution.
With his closure order, Gov. Wolf provided a breakdown of those businesses that may remain open and those that must close. However, the administration, through the Department of Community and Economic Development, will begin reviewing waiver requests from businesses looking for exemptions to the closure mandate. The department will also be available to answer questions from businesses on whether they will need to close.
It is unclear how long the closure order will remain in effect, and what actions legislative leaders might take to provide relief to businesses throughout the Commonwealth affected by the order. But in the meantime, DCED has set up email resources for businesses to utilize regarding the new mandated closure.

-- Any business that would like to seek a waiver from this order can email RA-dcexemption@pa.gov .

-- Any business unsure on whether they should close they can contact the administration at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov .
In addition, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group .

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 the state and federal governments' actions relating to the virus.
Other News
State, federal action to help workers, small businesses

On Wednesday evening, Congress approved, and President Trump signed, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This new legislation has many provisions, but most importantly are actions that expand paid leave for workers. The bill addresses both the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and traditional employer-based paid sick leave in response to COVID-19, primarily for employers with 500 or less employees.

McNees Wallace & Nurick’s Labor and Employment Practice Group provided a breakdown and summary of important aspects of the expanded paid leave provisions contained in the Families First Coronavirus Reponse Act.

In addition, McNees will hold a webinar on Monday, March 23, targeted for employers with less than 500 employees. Registration details about this important webinar will be provided on the McNees web site and the Labor and Employment Practice Group’s blog.

At the state level, the Commonwealth Financing Authority authorized $40 million in funding to be transferred to the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority to provide relief to Pennsylvania small businesses affected by COVID-19. Senate President Joe Scarnati said the transfer will be combined with existing funds in the state’s Small Business First Program and will be used to provide zero interest loans to small businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

As we have said in the last few editions, we encourage our readers to consult the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

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

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