A local state representative said mandated business shutdowns reached too far, and asked Gov. Tom Wolf to allow construction and some small businesses to remain open.
State Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Perryopolis, commended some changes to the life-sustaining business list, which allowed coal mines and rest areas for truckers to remain open. He said construction businesses should be next, noting that even states with widespread shelter-in-place orders and the Department of Homeland Security considered construction critical.
“I humbly ask that you reconsider closing these businesses, which are vital to the future of this commonwealth,” he wrote in a letter to Wolf. “By allowing both construction workers and employees of small businesses to return to work, we can practice safe social distancing measures while supporting an economy that desperately needs it.”
He said the frequent changes to the list have been a source of frustration to business owners, who have frequently called his office asking for guidance.
“It’s been a changing list since the day it was sent out by the governor,” he said. “There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it.”
He further asked the governor to allow businesses of 10 or fewer employees, who are able to implement CDC social distancing guidelines, to remain open.
“While I fully appreciate the lengths that Pennsylvania must go in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable citizens, many small businesses with 10 employees or less have the ability to operate while following safe social distancing practices while adhering to CDC guidelines,” Warner wrote in a letter to Wolf.
Warner said his office has been inundated with calls from business owners who requested waivers to remain open and were denied or who have not heard back. Some business owners said they were denied waivers while similar businesses had waivers approved.
“It’s been a somewhat confusing process from the get go,” he said.
While he acknowledged social distancing is important to stop the spread of COVID-19, he said he thinks changes can be made to curb the risks but reduce the strain on the economy.
“We have to follow and adhere to safety protocols and CDC guidelines as much as possible,” he said. “But there are things we have to do that are life-sustaining to keep this country moving forward.”