From my colleagues with our Government Relations Group and Capitol Buzz:
During the daily COVID-19 update provided by the administration, Gov. Tom Wolf instituted a “shelter-in-place” order for seven counties in the Commonwealth, including those in the Philadelphia region and Allegheny County in western Pennsylvania.
The order, which came 24 hours after the city of Philadelphia announced action of its own to order its residents to stay home, will go into effect starting at 8:00 p.m. Monday, March 23.
Specifically, the “shelter-in-place” order will apply to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Monroe and Allegheny counties. These counties have been the hardest hit during the COVID-19 outbreak. The restrictions for these counties will be in place for at least two weeks, according to the governor.
The governor is asking all individuals in those counties to stay at home, except for essential tasks to sustain life, or unless someone’s life depends on leaving the home. The governor said there is no curfew issued within the order.
In addition, the governor announced that statewide K-12 school closures will continue for two more weeks. Previously, schools were to reopen on March 30.
Also, legislative leaders, Gov. Wolf agree on postponing the April primary election amid COVID-19 concerns.
Later this afternoon, it is expected that the House State Government Committee will take the first step in postponing Pennsylvania’s April 28th primary election until June 2nd.
It will be the first official test of the legislature’s “remote” voting protocol, as committee members will take votes via proxy on Senate Bill 422, a bill that originally created an advisory board on election bills and was previously passed by the Senate. The committee is expected to adopt amendments to the legislation that includes the delayed primary language, as well allowing county election officials to close and consolidate polling places without the usual court approval and begin processing absentee ballots earlier.
If reported out of committee later today, the bill would go before the full House, who could vote on the legislation as early as Tuesday. If legislative leaders in both chambers can gain support for the compromise, the bill could reach Wolf’s desk by the end of the week.
This will be a major test for the General Assembly, and the public, to see how the legislature handles the “new normal” of remote and virtual governing during a global health pandemic.
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help.
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.
As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group, or for government relations assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG).
For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC’s coronavirus information page or visit www.health.pa.gov.