The best way to stop the spread of disease and protect hospitals from being overwhelmed is to make all Pennsylvanians stay home, said Governor Tom Wolf on Friday, March 27, when he issued a stay-at-home order for Berks County and nine other counties to try and stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
As of 8 p.m. Friday, residents in nine additional counties are ordered to stay at home unless it’s essential to go out: Berks, Butler, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne and Westmoreland.
Staying at home is the main rule of a shelter-in-place order, but it doesn’t mean you can’t go outside.
The order allows people to venture out for food, gas, medical appointments, shared custody drop-offs and pick-ups, and exercise. And Pennsylvanians who are employed by essential businesses can still go to work.
What is allowed under the stay-at-home orders in Pennsylvania?
- 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 service
- 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
- Anyone performing life-sustaining travel does not need paperwork to prove the reason for travel.
Who is exempt from the order?
- 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
How will it be enforced?
At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement.
To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number (610.655.4911 in Berks County) or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station.
Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.