Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf criticized on harsh terms elected officials and business owners who have initiated an unauthorized reopening on their own, in defiance of his shutdown orders.
He threatened Monday to remove coronavirus aid while declaring officials who take that position are “choosing to desert in the face of the enemy.”
“These folks are choosing to desert in the face of the enemy, in the middle of a war that Pennsylvanians are winning and must win,” said Wolf, seemingly angry at times, at a press briefing.
He blasted as “cowardly” business owners who reopen from coronavirus shutdowns before they are allowed.
Wolf responded after several Pennsylvania counties that are still in the “red phase” declared themselves in open rebellion against his restrictions on businesses and movement, saying local officials who pronounce themselves open for business will pay a high price.
“To those politicians who decide to cave in to this coronavirus, they need to understand the consequences of their cowardly act,” said Wolf, threatening to withhold state and federal funding to counties “that put us all at risk by operating illegally.”
The Democrat governor also warned businesses that choose to “follow the whims of local politicians and ignore the law” by reopening in defiance of the shutdown that they risk businesses licenses, certificates of occupancy and other required governmental approvals to operate.
“These folks are choosing to desert in the face of the enemy, in the middle of a war that Pennsylvanians are winning and must win,” said Wolf, seemingly angry at times, at a press briefing
A group of Republican elected officials plans to lift some of the restrictions imposed by Wolf which include his stay-at-home orders and closure of businesses deemed ” non-life-sustaining.” They argue that the counties have enough testing, equipment and hospital capacity to face the coronavirus.
“We have heard the pleas of our residents who desire the ability to safely reopen their businesses and safely return to work,” said nearly identical letters sent by state lawmakers, county commissioners and others in Lebanon and Schuylkill counties.
Franklin, Lancaster and Dauphin, among other counties, are also indicating they plan to lift pandemic restrictions on their own beginning this week.
Wolf’s comments also followed a tweet from President Trump that said “the great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now” and added, “the Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes.”
The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails. The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2020
However, Gov. Wolf resolutely insisted that the state reopening will be done gradually. To do otherwise, according to his words, would be to act contrary to what the harsh reality of the pandemic is dictating.
“The irresponsible thing to do is, as I said earlier, is to just willy nilly go off and pretend that we can wave a magic wand and go back into business and suspend the reality of this virus that’s surrounding us,” Wolf said.