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Governer Wolf to Accelerate Re-opening of Construction Activities

By Stephen R. McDonnell, Esq.

Pennsylvania Governor Wolf recently announced a partial re-opening of businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic in the State of Pennsylvania, scheduled to begin on May 8, 2020. Pursuant to the Governor’s order, certain businesses in specific regions could begin to re-open where designated criteria are met and as long as there is adherence to mandated social distancing and safety practices. Despite the re-openings, tele-commuting continues to be encouraged where practical.

While May 8 is designated as the general partial re-opening of businesses, a special dispensation for construction is currently set for May 1, 2020. There was no explanation given as to this earlier date to re-open construction, however it may relate to the criticism Governor Wolf received from the construction industry, which argued that many construction activities could be safely performed with adherence to social distancing guidelines and through the use of personal protection devices.

Currently, construction activities are limited to those that are:  1) for emergency repairs, 2) at a health care facility, or 3) being performed by a select number of companies that obtained a waiver. In announcing the accelerated re-opening of construction activities, Governor Wolf emphasized “that Pennsylvanians should take the guidance given to their communities and their businesses seriously.”

Regarding the general re-opening on May 8, there are numerous criteria that must be met, including a 14-day period where a specified region sees fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 residents. This re-opening is planned to start in the north-central and northwest part of the state first. These areas will move from the currently designated “red stage” to “yellow.” In the yellow stage, schools remain closed, gatherings are limited to 25 people or less, restaurants are still limited to curbside or delivery orders only, retail is limited to curbside and delivery and all will be required to telework where possible. Until the criteria to move to yellow are met, the statewide stay at home order remains in effect.

Gawthrop Greenwood and its team of lawyers will continue to review legislation and governmental decisions as they unfold, as we are committed to providing guidance to our clients. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 610-696-8225.

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