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Dauphin County under stay-at-home order; Gov. Wolf closes schools, businesses indefinitely


Dauphin County is now under a stay-at-home order until April 30, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday, and business and school closures will remain in place with no set date to resume normal operations, he said.

He also added Carbon, Cumberland and Schuylkill to the stay-at-home order. If you are living in the 26 counties under a stay-at-home order, leave only if it is absolutely necessary, he said. This order takes effect at 8 p.m. today, Monday, March 30.

“We’re going to keep our schools and businesses closed as long as we need to keep them closed to keep Pennsylvanians safe. Right now, it isn’t safe. I know this isn’t easy to hear. We humans are built to want to work, to learn, to socialize. It’s hard being confined to one place. We miss being with our friends. We miss being with family members,” Wolf said.

With warmer temperatures coming, he said, spring fever is going to set in, making it even more difficult.

“Spend time in your yard, or go for a neighborhood walk while maintaining a 6-foot distance from others,” he suggested.

The 22 counties already under a stay-at-home order were: Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Butler, Centre, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland and York.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine said Saturday that a number of factors determine whether a county goes under a stay-at-home order, including the number of cases in that county and in contiguous counties and the rate of change in terms of new cases. State officials consult with county commissioners and county health authorities about what they’re seeing. It is discussed at senior staff meetings and the governor makes a decision.

Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel, according to the governor’s office:

• 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 people.

• Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.

• 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.

The following operations are exempt:

• 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 business closure orders.

• News media.

• Law enforcement.

• The federal government.

• Religious institutions.

Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.

International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing.

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, according to the governor’s office. To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.