Monday, April 20th, at noon, protesters will come together at the state's Capitol to insist that Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania Legislature support businesses across the commonwealth in safely reopening on May 1st.
"We will have endured nearly 7 weeks of lock down when May 1st arrives and the end of these restrictions has remained indefinite," event organizers have said in a statement. "In spite of data indicating restrictions should be loosening, mandates have instead become more restrictive. Business owners are forced to layoff employees while the unemployment system is failing those laid off and the economy free falls. Pennsylvanians deserve more than just endless extensions. It is not sustainable to continue the shut down as the economic and societal consequences may be irreversible."
The event is organized by ReOpen PA, End The Lockdown PA, and Pennsylvania Against Excessive Quarantine. Attendance is expected to reach 10,000 participants.
In response to the planned protest, Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine has said “If you come to Harrisburg and you are not practicing social distancing then you are putting all yourselves at risk. So, if a gathering like that happens, and they are not practicing social distancing and they’re not wearing gloves and they are not washing their hands, etc, then they will be more at risk from contracting the dangerous virus COVID-19,”
Tuesday, SB 613, a bill which would require the Governor to create clear guidelines for businesses to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, passed the house with a 107-95 vote.
Gov. Tom Wolf plans to veto Senate Bill 613, his office said Wednesday night.
"As the administration has stated many times, irresponsibly going against the direction of the secretary of health and reopening businesses too early will only extend the length of the economic hardships created by the pandemic," said Wolf's press secretary, Lyndsay Kensinger.
Nearly 17 Million Americans have been laid off in the past 3 weeks and large and small businesses alike are struggling under national stay at home orders by the Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Tarah Toohil, current State Representative for the 116th district, has asked the PA Department of Health to provide additional COVID-19 case data on their website and has urged Governor Wolf to enforce safe workplace guidelines in the Hazleton area. On Tuesday, Toohil voted in favor of Senate Bill 613. "On Tuesday, I joined a majority of my House colleagues in supporting legislation that would allow certain businesses in Pennsylvania to SAFELY reopen under the same federal guidelines currently being followed by surrounding states." Toohil posted to social media this week.
Todd Eachus, who served as a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1997 until 2010, and is currently seeking the Democratic nomination in the 116th Legislative District has stated “All health and economic decisions during this crisis need to be made deliberately on the foundation of scientific and medical recommendations and adequate testing must be in place as we restart the Pennsylvania economy.”
“This flip-flop and pandering by the Representative shows the naked truth of special interest
politics in Harrisburg, and a blatant disregard for the reality of public health in the Greater
Hazleton Area,” Eachus stated. ‘What you say and how you vote matters! Unfortunately, with
Harrisburg COVID-19 politics, this may cost additional lives.”
Facebook groups for the organizations planning Monday's protest have been gaining members quickly since they were recently started. ReOpen PA has: 38,838 members, founded April 13, 2020. End The Lockdown PA has: 6,744 members, founded April 10, 2020. Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine has : 52,423 members, founded on April 14, 2020.
Attendees are encouraged to adhere to safe social distancing guidelines by remaining in their vehicles around the Capitol Complex.
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