Gov. Wolf Issues Stay At Home Order, Extends School Closures

Governor Tom Wolf speaks at a press conference about confirmed coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania. Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine stands behind him. Photo via Office of Governor Tom Wolf.

Pennsylvanians in seven counties will soon be under the effects of a stay at home order from Governor Tom Wolf. The news comes at the same time as state officials announced extended closures for schools in the commonwealth.

Beginning at 8 p.m. Monday, Mar. 23, the state government will limit the number of valid reasons for people to leave their homes. This order continues through Apr. 6.

The following counties are affected: Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.

“I remain deeply concerned about this public health crisis and we must continue to take careful but critical steps now to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “We are issuing these orders because Pennsylvanians’ health and safety remains our highest priority.”

There are several reasons for leaving one’s house which are exempt. A full list directly from Governor Wolf’s Office is at the bottom of this article.

Schools are also facing extended mandatory closures throughout the entire state. Buildings must remain closed through Apr. 6. And even then, the state says it could further delay reopening schools down the road.

Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said he intentionally scheduled the date to reopen with the end of Wolf’s stay at home order.

“Protecting the health and safety of students, families, teachers and all employees who work in our schools is paramount during this national health crisis and we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” said Rivera. “The number of positive cases increases daily and we’re seeing it spread to more counties. We must adhere to the social distancing guidelines. Extending the closure will help every community in its efforts to mitigate the spread.”

Last week, the PA Department of Education cancelled all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the current school year.

The state has provided the lists below as exceptions to Wolf’s stay at home order.

Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth

The following operations are exempt:

  • Life-sustaining business activities
  • Health care or medical services providers
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders.
  • News media
  • Law enforcement
  • The federal government
  • Religious institutions