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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued one of the more sweeping responses to the COVID-19 outbreak on Thursday evening: he ordered all "non-life-preserving" businesses in the state to close, indefinitely.
"To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions," Wolf said in a statement announcing the new anti-virus measures. "We need to act with the strength we use against any other severe threat. And, we need to act now before the illness spreads more widely."
Acting "with strength" meant threatening fines, citations, and the loss of licenses to any business who defied Wolf's order for more than a day—the order to close took effect at 8 p.m. on Thursday, but enforcement would be postponed until Saturday morning, the governor's statement explained.
Republican lawmakers in the state's General Assembly criticized Wolf for the timing of his announcement. It was made after the close of normal business hours on Thursday, potentially leaving many businesses and employees unsure about what to do on Friday morning.
"The ill-prepared actions, announced after normal business hours, are not only an economic blow to every worker in the state right now but will have ramifications long into the future," Republican legislative leaders wrote in a joint statement. "It is incumbent upon all state leaders to recognize that long after we have defeated this public health threat, we must have the ability to create economic opportunities for all Pennsylvanians."
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