HAZLE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – What happens to Pennsylvania businesses or individuals who decide not to adhere to the state’s COVID-19 closure orders?
The closure and stay home orders have been in place since late March.
“The overwhelming majority of interactions end in a warning and a conversation, and bringing folks into that voluntary compliance which is so important,” Pennsylvania State Police Spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said.
Tarkowski told Eyewitness News that arresting people or issuing citations is not the mission of the State Police.
“We are not interested in getting business owners and the general public unnecessarily involved in the legal system in this trying time. We know it’s hard for everybody out there, but criminal penalties are… for people who disregard the Governor’s orders.”
Nearly two months into the issuance of the closure orders, the numbers show that people are getting the message.
“We have issued 312 warnings statewide — the number count as of Monday — and really only one citation.”
He says that is for business owners who have violated closure orders, and they’ve also issued citations for people who violated stay at home orders.
“Stay at home orders, as of this morning, 33 warnings statewide and seven citations.”
Governor Tom Wolf also commented about those who may decide to violate those closure orders.
“The real enforcement here is do we want to jeopardize the lives of people we care about? Our customers, our employees, our family members. I think the answer to that is overwhelmingly no, we don’t want to do that,” Wolf said.
Jake Ripa owns a now-closed jewelry shop in downtown Hazleton. He says he thinks people will do the right thing.
“I could see where a lot of people are getting frustrated naturally because a lot of these businesses this is their main source of income.”
Penalties for violating the closure orders can range anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, and possibly even jail time.
To see the complete guidelines issued for the stay at home order, click here.