Pa. State Police Enforcing Stay-At-Home And Business Closure Orders With Discretion
Pennsylvania State Police are enforcing Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders for Pennsylvanians to stay at home and for non-life sustaining businesses to close their physical locations as part of the effort to slow down the coronavirus.
So far, state police have issued three citations for people who allegedly violated the stay at-home-order, since it took effect on April 1. They also issued six warnings during the first five days of the month.
State police issued one of the citations to a man in Chester County who allegedly stole from a grocery store, drove too fast and crashed his car.
They also issued one to a woman in Montour County accused of trespassing and fleeing police.
In another case, a woman in York County faces only one charge: violating the stay-at-home order.
But despite guidelines for the statewide order, enforcement can come down to a trooper’s discretion.
State Police Major Christopher Paris said the goal is only to charge people in extreme cases.
“I can’t give you every single eventuality, but I keep going back to the fact,” Paris said. “Exercise good judgement and we’re out there to educate and get people to voluntarily comply.”
Under the governor’s order, people are allowed to leave their homes for essential work at businesses that remain open, and for things like buying groceries or exercising.
The state is discouraging all indoor celebrations or gatherings for religious services.
But Paris said troopers won’t cite anyone for attending a religious service, including for the upcoming Easter holiday.
State police are also enforcing Gov. Wolf’s order for non-life-sustaining businesses to close their physical locations, which was announced on March 19.
The agency says as of Tuesday, 205 warnings have been issued to businesses that are not complying. No citation has been issued yet to a business.
Three State Police districts in central Pennsylvania -- Troops F, G and H -- which cover the area between Potter and Tioga Counties in the north to Bedford and Franklin Counties down south, accounted for more than one-third of the statewide total of warnings received.
A State Police spokesman said that may be due to the fact that the agency is responsible for more day-to-day policing in rural counties, where it’s less likely for municipalities to have their own police forces.
Local police are also under the guidance to enforce the business closure order, but are not reporting enforcement data to the State Police.