Wolf actually hasn’t ordered non-essential businesses to close

During yesterday’s press conference, Governor Tom Wolf announced that non-essential stores were to close at midnight (just watch the first two minutes of the press conference here).

Everyone took that to mean that Wolf was ordering retail businesses like gyms, etc, to close. The media, along with MoreThanTheCurve.com, all reported this as fact.

Here are some examples:

Locally, there has been a handful of discussions on social media about an East Norriton gym remaining open (yesterday it announced it would close as of 8:00 p.m., days after others had closed).

But does it have to close? The answer is no.

In the press release that came after Wolf’s press conference the language used about non-essential businesses is as follows:

“We strongly urge non-essential businesses across the commonwealth to do their part by temporarily closing as we work to flatten the curve and protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “We understand that businesses are an economic driver throughout Pennsylvania, and a temporary closure will be a financial and community disruptor. DCED is committed to working with the business community to provide helpful resources for financial assistance.”

Non-essential businesses include public-facing industries such as entertainment, hospitality, and recreation facilities, including but not limited to community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons and barber shops, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations.

“Strongly urge” is not a mandate.

Most readers probably believe gyms were ordered to close on March 12th (and we reported that they were based on Wolf’s press conference, just watch the first two minutes here). As you will see, he says he is ordering gyms closed.

However, if you go to the press release that followed the press conference, it doesn’t mention gyms being ordered closed. it states, “The Governor and the Commonwealth recommends that non-essential retail facilities close” and later in the press release it says he discourages people to visit gyms.

Wolf’s public statements and his press releases are not offering the same message.

We have tried unsuccessfully to get clarification from the Governor’s Office.

Please note that this article is not meant to be an argument that gyms should be open. It is just illustrating the mixed message from the Governor, which has confused the public, the media, and the businesses involved.

More to come.