Gov. Wolf Fires Back: Closure Orders Remain In Place

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf fired back Wednesday, saying the current disaster emergency for coronavirus remains in place hours after the state legislature passed a bill aimed to force him to terminate the declaration and revoke all business closure orders.

Wolf, who has come under increased pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to lift many of the mitigation measures, said Pennsylvania will continue to reopen in a careful and measured way.

The governor will "disapprove" HR 836, and the disaster proclamation has not been terminated by the House or Senate's actions, his office confirmed. "Only the governor can terminate the disaster emergency," said Press Secretary Lyndsay Kensinger.

RELATED: PA Lawmakers Vote To End Gov. Wolf's Shutdown Order

During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, the governor said the disaster declaration is separate from the orders signed by Secretary of Health Rachel Levine under the Disease Prevention Act. The orders include provisions for business reopenings and worker safety.

"Those orders remain in place. The legislature did nothing to end those," Wolf said.

The bill passed the Senate by a 31-19 vote Tuesday night after several hours of debate. It then handily passed the House by a 121-81 vote.

But the bill, which was supported by a dozen House Democrats, "wouldn't reopen a single business that was closed," Wolf said.

The governor noted the disaster declaration is tied to other relief programs, including unemployment, school meal programs, telehealth licensing, and more. Its termination would negatively impact a broad swath of Pennsylvanians, Wolf said.

Wolf noted more than half the state is already in the green phase, where most closure orders are lifted. Twelve more counties will go into the green phase this Friday.

Supporters of the measure maintain intervention is necessary so as to prevent an abuse of power. Additionally, they highlight the steep job loses and widespread economic decline. Since the closures began, nearly 2 million people in Pennsylvania have filed for unemployment.

"The governor has used the power afforded to him under this declaration without input from the Legislature, suspending state laws, spending money without legislative approval, and his most unfair action of all, shutting down the family-sustaining careers of millions of Pennsylvanians," House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler said.

Wolf said the measures are put in place to protect the health and safety of residents. In total, nearly 77,000 Pennsylvanians have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 6,000 have died.

"I'm going to continue to focus on protecting Pennsylvanians and navigating our recovery. But I'll tell you one thing: ending the disaster declaration is not part of that plan," the governor said.

You can see Wolf's full comments here:

Please join us for the latest on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, including a response to recent actions by the legislature.
Posted by Governor Tom Wolf on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

>>>Full coverage of coronavirus in Pennsylvania

This article originally appeared on the Newtown Patch