Friday is the last day businesses can apply to be considered life-sustaining by state authorities, officials announced. The designation allows businesses to operate their physical locations during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials from the state Department of Community and Economic Development said the exemption application window will close at 5 p.m., April 3.
Since Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses close to contain the spread of COVID-19 on March 19, companies have been petitioning the state to stay open.
DCED Secretary Dennis Davin suggested businesses who think they may be applicable for the waiver to review the department’s life-sustaining business FAQ and file a form before the end of the day Friday.
“We appreciate the cooperation of businesses making sure they are operating appropriately during this time,” Davin said Wednesday. “As the business exemption period ends this week, our staff continues to work tirelessly to organize and assess the data associated with submissions.”
DCED officials review each request and respond based on the “guiding principle of balancing public safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions.” Those requesting an exemption can expect to be notified via email if their operations are to remain open.
Businesses are ordered to close operations at physical locations until a decision is made about their application.
At the end of the day Tuesday, DCED received 32,474 requests for exemptions, and “DCED staff are working to process them as quickly as possible.”
Although no citations have been issued by the state police to any companies for failing to comply with the governor’s mandate, which could result in fines or jail time, 123 business entities have been issued warnings for violating the order.
As of Wednesday, the major industries excluded from the life-sustaining category include civil engineering and building construction, personal care services, performing arts and spectator sports, education facilities and various retail and manufacturing sectors. The full list of industries can be found online.
In manufacturing, textile mills and apparel manufacturing are not life-sustaining, while food and beverage manufacturing is life-sustaining. Chemical manufacturing sectors are all considered life-sustaining, aside from paint, coating and adhesive manufacturing.
Contractors and construction workers are permitted only to perform emergency repairs.
Sporting goods stores have been ordered to close except for firearm dealers, who are allowed to operate physical businesses on a limited basis to complete only sale and transfer transactions that must be conducted in person.
Stores have been ordered to operate during limited hours to minimize social contact, comply with social distancing and sanitize areas between appointments.