Enforcement of Pennsylvania Governor Wolf’s Order closing the physical location of all non-life sustaining businesses begins today, Monday, March 23, 2020, and has been entrusted to several state agencies including the PA Liquor Control Board, the PA Department of Health, the PA Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania State Police. Physical enforcement of the relevant laws will be left primarily to Pennsylvania State Police, Liquor Control Enforcement Officers (a Bureau of the Pennsylvania State Police) and local law enforcement.
Violations of the Governor’s Order or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Order can result in fines and/or imprisonment of up to 30 days. Additionally, violations of the Order temporarily closing establishments licensed by the Liquor Control Board is a misdemeanor offense. Violations can result in the suspension or revocation of licenses, fines and/or imprisonment.
Companies that continue operations as “life-sustaining business” should be aware that they may be approached by law enforcement. It’s important to put a plan in place if your business is approached.
- Ensure that one person is designated to interact with government agents. This person should be prepared to explain how the Company fits within the Order’s designation of a “life-sustaining business” and the protocols enacted by the Company to meet CDC recommended guidelines to maintain employee safety. Leech Tishman has assisted clients in preparing a short letter to this effect that can be presented to law enforcement.
- Call in-house or outside legal counsel. It is important to do so immediately. Law enforcement should not interfere with a phone call to counsel.
- DO NOT obstruct or interfere with law enforcement. Violations of the Pennsylvania Disease Prevent and Control Laws and Administrative Code are only summary offenses, generally resulting in a citation and fines as adjudicated by a district magistrate judge. However, provisions in the criminal code allow for misdemeanor offenses for obstructing the administration of law or emergency services that can, in some instances, result in a physical arrest.
- DO NOT instruct employees to answer or refuse to answer questions from law enforcement. Employees have the individual right to accept or decline an interview with law enforcement.
If you believe that your business is a “life-sustaining business,” supports a business that has been designated as life-sustaining, or should be exempt from the Governor’s Order shutting down physical operations, you can access an application for a waiver seeking an exemption from the Governor’s Order here.
Leech Tishman has already guided several businesses through this process. If your business needs further guidance on what qualifies as non-essential or would like to apply for a waiver, please contact:
Steve is a Partner with Leech Tishman and Chair of the firm’s Government Relations Group. He is also a member of the Corporate, Employment & Labor and Litigation Practice Groups. Steve can be reached at 412.721.1830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa is Counsel with Leech Tishman and is a member of the Litigation Practice Group and the White Collar Criminal Defense & Government Investigations and Internal Investigations groups. Lisa can be reached at 412.400.8466 or email@example.com.
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Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl is a full-service law firm dedicated to assisting individuals, businesses, and institutions. Leech Tishman offers legal services in alternative dispute resolution, aviation & aerospace, bankruptcy & creditors’ rights, construction, corporate, employee benefits, employment, energy, environmental, estates & trusts, family law, government relations, immigration, insurance coverage & corporate risk mitigation, intellectual property, international legal matters, litigation, real estate, and taxation. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Leech Tishman also has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Sarasota and Wilmington, DE.