At the remote press conference, Wolf said the order is applied to counties that are experiencing an outbreak of coronavirus and is meant to help stem its spread. The order goes into effect at 8 p.m tonight and is set to last two weeks.
“Don’t leave your home unless someone’s life depends on your leaving,” said Wolf. “Because ultimately someone's life does depend on you staying.”
Wolf also announced that as part of the orders, schools across the state are now closed for an additional two weeks. But it’s unclear how this new stay-at-home order is different from previous coronavirus directives. There is no curfew applied to Allegheny County. The order appears mostly to serve as another stricter reminder that county residents should be staying at home as much as possible.
Wolf said people in Allegheny County should only leave their homes for life-sustaining reasons, and specially mentioned buying food, groceries, and pharmaceuticals. This includes life-sustaining goods for pets as well.
Today, @GovernorTomWolf & @PAHealthDept issued “Stay at Home” orders to Allegheny (City of #Pittsburgh), Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, & @PhiladelphiaGov counties, as the state seeks relief to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19. https://t.co/tWpD5GeKul— City of Pittsburgh (@CityPGH) March 23, 2020
In a press release, the Wolf administration confirmed that outdoor recreation is allowed under the stay at home order, as long as the proper six-foot social distancing is adhered to.
Other activities that are still permitted under the stay-at-home order include:
- Transferring life-sustaining goods for oneself, as part of volunteer efforts, or as part of one’s job
- Leaving home to care for a family member, pet, elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable people in another household
- Travel to and/or from schools or educational institutions to receive materials for distance learning, meals, and other related services
- Travel by court order or by law enforcement
- People are allowed to return home if they live in jurisdictions outside the stay-at-home order or outside of Pennsylvania.
However, during the press conference, Wolf didn’t indicate any enforcement mechanisms being applied to individuals when asked by reporters. Wolf did say, as a part of his non-life-sustaining business closures that goes also goes into effect tonight, that the state does have the ability to enforce the rules on businesses, but said: “Ultimately this depends on the people of Pennsylvania to follow it.”
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said at the press conference that these efforts are part of the goal of avoiding a massive outbreak.
“If we are not to do this, we could see a large growth in cases like in Italy, and we want to avoid that,” said Levine. “It is going up in the United States and it is going up in Pennsylvania, that is why the governor is putting in these mitigation efforts.”
Today, Allegheny County saw eight additional positive coronavirus cases and now has 48 total. Pennsylvania saw 165 new positive cases since yesterday and has a grand total of 644 cases. Allegheny County has seen one death due to coronavirus so far.
Wolf said that his administration is working with certain agencies so that people experiencing homelessness in the stay-at-home counties are informed about the order and can remain in place at certain shelters.
- Businesses and organizations exempt from the stay-at-home order include:
- Life-sustaining business activities
- Health-care professionals
- Food banks and other life-sustaining goods providers for low-income people
- News media
- Law enforcement
- The federal government
- Religious institutions
- 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.