State, Local Police Assist in Enforcement of Business Closures
Pennsylvania State Police start enforcing Gov. Tom Wolf’s business closure order, according to PSP Commissioner Col. Robert Evanchick.
Wolf last week ordered all non-life sustaining businesses to shut down for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, effective today.
“The priority of the Pennsylvania State Police is protecting lives and maintaining order in the commonwealth,“ Evanchick said.”In light of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, troopers and liquor control enforcement officers are prepared to ensure compliance with Gov. Wolf’s order.“
Chambersburg’s Mayor Walt Bietsch last week confirmed borough police would also enforce Wolf’s order. Non-compliant businesses face citations and fines if they stay open during the state of emergency declared by Wolf last week.
The Law and Its Enforcement
Private businesses, organizations, and other noncompliant entities face possible criminal penalties under the Administrative Code of 1929, 71 P.S. § 1409 and/or the Pennsylvania Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955, 35 P.S. § 521.20(a). Both violations are summary offenses punishable by fines and even jail time. Violators may also be subject to additional administrative penalties under certain circumstances.
“We believe most Pennsylvanians want to act responsibly and do their part to help slow the spread of this deadly virus,” Evancheck said.
Municipal police officers, state troopers and liquor control officers will make every effort to achieve voluntary compliance, according to both Bietsch and Evancheck. They will first educate business owners and use discretion when appropriate.
The COVID-19 Message Is Clear
But the message is clear. COVID-19 is a serious health and public safety risk that requires an extraordinary response from law enforcement and the public, Evancheck said in a news release Sunday.
“I urge everyone to stay home, stay calm, and stay safe,” he said.
The governor directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce the closure orders to the full extent of the law:
- Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
- Department of Health
- Department of Agriculture
- Pennsylvania State Police
- Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions
The Wolf administration has provided all local law enforcement with enforcement guidance that mirrors PSP’s.
To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest PSP station. Please do not call 911 to file reports.
For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit psp.pa.gov.