Pier Hess Graf, an attorney with the Lebanon County District Attorney announce this morning over Facebook that the DA will not be prosecuting any local business who choses to open as long as they follow restrictions set forth by Dr. Rachel Levine.
On April 15th the state Health Secretary, Dr. Levine released a set of orders for business who wished to remain open while government officials and scientists attempt to combat the future spread of COVID-19.
“This order will ensure continuity across all life-sustaining businesses and will further our efforts to protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians. Together, we can all help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Dr Levin’s new protocols for local businesses include:
- Provide masks to employees and mandate that they wear them when they aren’t eating or drinking.
- Stagger work start and stop times to limit gatherings of large groups entering or leaving the business.
- Provide sufficient space for employees to have breaks and meals.
- Conduct meetings and training virtually.
- Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the business.
- Ensure that the business has enough employees while maintaining social distancing.
When an employee tests positive for COVID the new guidelines for containment include closing off and ventilating all areas where the infected person had been, waiting 24 hours before disinfecting, and alerting any employee who may have had contact with the person. All store employees and customers will be required to wear masks, and employers will be required to provide those masks to their employees during their shifts. Local businesses will be adjusting their business hours to accommodate the additional time needed to clean and restock the store.
Further safety measures taken include installing shields and barriers around areas such as the cash register, redirecting purchase traffic to online options, and designated times of operation for elderly people who are considered high-risk due to more vulnerable immune systems.
Lebanon’s Governor, Tom Wolf, had extended Stay-at-Home orders until early June despite the reports issues by Dr. Levin last month. Minutes after this announcement, concerned citizens started reaching out to the DA’s office in Lebanon questioning what legal rights they had to combat the Governor so they wouldn’t further be forced into debt and jobless.
Community members were in a panic with the effects of a prolonged shutdown looming over them and potentially permanent damages to their local economy.
The formal Facebook announcement says The Lebanon County DA Office, “will not prosecute or pursue legal action against any business which reopens, so long as the business complies with the mandates set forth in the Administration’s 4-15-20 Order.”
“Whether a business opens, and whether an individual feels safely enough in his surroundings to patronize the business, are questions our citizens must answer for themselves. Law enforcement exists to protect and serve our communities; we do not exist to enforce arbitrary regulations which rip away a roof over a family’s head or food in a child’s mouth. Our police officers have tough enough jobs without the added duty of persecuting local small business,” says DA Graff.