Dr. Rachel and PA Gov. refuse to release the list of businesses they have determined may remain open as “life-sustaining” and those that are not which must cease operations.
By Angela Couloumbis and Ed Mahon
Spotlight PA | Mar 30, 2020 | 12:36 PM | HARRISBURG
This story was produced as part of a joint effort among Spotlight PA, LNP Media Group, PennLive, PA Post, and WITF to cover how Pennsylvania state government is responding to the coronavirus. Sign up for Spotlight PA’s newsletter.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s former business, a cabinet supply company in central Pennsylvania, has continued operating during the coronavirus shutdown despite having its waiver rescinded by state officials, PA Post and Spotlight PA have learned.
The question of which businesses must close and which can stay open during the statewide coronavirus shutdown has been an ongoing point of confusion and anger since March 16, when the governor first began asking “non-essential” companies to curtail operations.
Then, on March 19, Wolf expanded the order to require all companies but those deemed “life-sustaining” to close their physical operations. His administration released a list of industries labeled as to whether or not they could remain open, and since then, officials have twice revised that list.
The governor also created a waiver process that allows any business to apply and make an argument about why they are “life-sustaining.” The state had received more than 24,000 waiver requests as of Wednesday. Of those, 4,003 had been approved and 4,439 had been denied.
But many in the business community have complained that the waivers are being applied inconsistently and decided in secret. State officials have repeatedly declined Spotlight PA’s requests to release the full list of waiver requests, including those granted or denied.
Deciding which businesses can operate and which must close during the coronavirus outbreak, which could continue for weeks or months, has enormous implications for businesses, workers, and their families. A waiver could mean the difference between solvency and bankruptcy.
“Imagine having the powers of Thanos to knock out all of your competition with a stroke of a pen, as the governor so effectively managed to do with little notice or outrage,” state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, said in a statement Friday afternoon.