HARRISBURG - PA Chamber President Gene Barr issued the following statement today in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s additional mitigation mandates, which include prohibiting all indoor dining, limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings and imposing capacity limits for businesses. These measures will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 12 and last until 8 a.m. on Jan.4.
“Today’s announcement from the Wolf administration may not necessarily improve the Commonwealth’s public health situation, but it will certainly wreak economic devastation upon numerous businesses. The orders were announced without any consultation or feedback from the state’s business community.
“Among the hardest hit industries throughout this pandemic has been the restaurant industry. Yet again, restaurant owners and industry workers who have already been through so much are forced to adhere to mandates that for many, will shut their doors for good. Unfortunately, banning indoor dining will have the adverse effect of driving more people to private gatherings where there is little to no sanitizing, social distancing or mask wearing.
“The additional mandates kick off yet another chaotic and stressful time for the state’s employers. There is no doubt that cases are spiking. However, rather than impose new measures in a vacuum, the state needs to more effectively enforce the efforts that are already in place. As we have stressed multiple times, employers need the backing of law enforcement and state officials to effectively enforce the mandates that are designed to keep us safe – particularly mask wearing.
“Our organization has repeatedly stressed the importance of employers, workers and customers adhering to state and CDC health guidelines regarding mask wearing, hand washing/sanitizing and social distancing. We also recognize and value the efforts of those in the medical community who are treating patients and those who are developing the vaccines that will lead us out of this crisis. That is why we, along with medical professionals and researchers, nonprofits, schools, daycares, universities and more, have pushed so hard for targeted and temporary liability protections for those adhering to the guidelines -- so that their efforts will not be targeted with unwarranted lawsuits. We remain perplexed as to why the governor vetoed these critical reforms, and we continue to push for their enactment at the state and federal level.
“We understand that this is a trying time and strongly believe that the only way we will overcome these challenges is by working together. To do this, there needs to be engagement, coordination and communication between the administration and the business community in order to strike a balance between protecting our public health and preserving our fragile economy. Imposing further mandates on a significantly weakened private sector will make our path to recovery all the more difficult.”