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LIFE SUSTAINING BUSINESSES UPDATE: Wolf Administration Clarifies Which Businesses Must Close and Provides Additional Guidance on Waivers and Other Issues

March 20, 2020


This is an additional update to our two previous posts on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Order regarding the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses in the Commonwealth.

The Wolf Administration has released updated guidance on the distinction between life-sustaining and non-life-sustaining businesses in the form of an updated spreadsheet, which can be accessed here.  The changes are based on an advisory released by the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Among other changes, “Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services” may now continue physical operations.  Also, construction businesses may perform emergency repairs, and “construction of health care facilities” is now permitted.

An FAQs page has also been released to help businesses that are unclear about whether they must close.  The FAQs provide additional information on the process to obtain a waiver from the closure order, which was the subject of a previous Montgomery McCracken alert.

Importantly, the FAQs indicate that businesses awaiting a decision on a waiver application “should comply with the Governor’s Order and suspend in-person, physical operations until a waiver is approved and provided.”

The FAQs also provide guidance for manufacturing businesses that wish to switch from classifications not currently permitted to a different manufacturing process that is authorized:

Businesses not clearly in a category authorized to maintain physical operations according to the list and Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency advisory should apply for a waiver. In this particular circumstance, please note in the waiver request that the facility is transferring operations to a life-sustaining function and the Department of Community and Economic Development will communicate with you about next steps.

There is also guidance on businesses who wish to maintain limited essential personnel for security, processing of essential functions, or to maintain compliance with regulatory requirements:

Businesses suspending physical operations must limit on-site personnel to maintain critical functions, and in all cases follow social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation guidance provided by the PA Department of Health and CDC.

We encourage our clients and members of the business community to share this information with others who may be affected by Governor Wolf’s March 19, 2020 Order and these additional clarifications.

Montgomery McCracken attorneys are available and have been assisting clients that are working on this issue and others related to COVID-19.  Montgomery McCracken’s COVID-19 Resource Center is available here.