“I cannot allow residents in a red county to get sick because their local officials can’t see the invisible risk of the virus in their community,” said Wolf. “So I must, and I will impose consequences if a county locally lifts restrictions when it has not yet been given the go-ahead by the state.”
Wolf called the sacrifices Pennsylvanians have made "a quiet heroism," saying that "heroic acts deserve to be met not by surrendering, but by staying the course."
Wolf's comments were an apparent response to President Trump, and other elected officials, who have advocated for reopening the state more broadly. Parts of the statement moved the "yellow phase," a partial reopening, on May 8, and more will move to that status on May 15.
On Monday morning, Trump tweeted about the status of Pennsylvania's reopening, saying, "The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now...The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes."
I won't sit back and watch residents who live in counties under Stay at Home orders get sick because local leaders cannot see the risks of #COVID19 and push to reopen prematurely.— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) May 11, 2020
Today I am announcing consequences for counties that do not abide by the law to remain closed.
Some local politicians have pushed back at the restrictions, including in Beaver County, one of the only counties in Southwest Pennsylvania that is still in the "red phase" because of a severe outbreak of COVID-19 at the Brighton Rehab nursing home. Beaver County district attorney David Lozier has said that he wouldn't prosecute businesses that violate state shutdown restrictions.
In Wolf's statement, he announced that counties that don't abide restrictions set by the state will not be eligible for certain federal stimulus discretionary funds, and employees in those counties can choose to not return to work and still receive unemployment benefits. Additionally, individual businesses can face consequences; those that ignore restrictions won't qualify for business liability insurance, and restaurants that open for dine-in service could lose their liquor license.
“This is not a time to give up,” said Wolf. “This is a time to rededicate ourselves to the task of beating this virus. I intend to keep fighting, and I believe that the overwhelming majority of my fellow Pennsylvanians intend to keep fighting it too."