Reed Smith Client Alerts

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has modified his March 19, 2020 executive order, which had called for the immediate closure of all businesses in the Commonwealth that were not deemed “life sustaining” at that time. Among other things, the list of life sustaining businesses was revised to conform with guidance on “essential critical infrastructure” issued by the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. By 5.45 p.m. on March 21, 2020, Pennsylvania’s list was revised such that several categories of businesses that had been slated for closure – including coal mining, logging, and hotels and motels – were permitted to continue operations. Other businesses, including law firms, were given permission to resume limited operations. The governor also pushed back enforcement of the order until 8  a.m. on March 23, 2020.

Authors: John M. McIntyre

The Commonwealth also set up a process such that any business not authorized to maintain physical operations according to the list of life sustaining businesses and the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency advisory could apply for a waiver. The waiver form is available at expressforms.pa.gov.

Pennsylvania’s revised guidance also permitted businesses required to suspend physical operations to maintain limited in-person essential personnel for security or processing of essential functions, or to maintain compliance with federal, state or local regulatory requirements so long as they observed social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation guidance provided by the PA Department of Health and CDC.

Given how quickly things are evolving, businesses will need to be prepared for additional changes and potentially more restrictive local orders. For example, the City of Philadelphia issued a prohibition on what it defines as non-essential business activities, effective at 8 a.m. on March 23, that will remain in effect until further notice. In light of these restrictions, each business will need to make its own determination of its ability to continue operations based on the products and/or services it provides and the client base that it serves. For that reason, we suggest that you contact your Reed Smith relationship lawyer with any questions and he or she can connect you with our dedicated COVID-19 response team.

Our Reed Smith Coronavirus team includes multidisciplinary lawyers from Asia, EME and the United States who stand ready to advise you on the issues above or others you many face related to COVID-19.

For more information on the legal and business implications of COVID-19, visit the Reed Smith Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center or contact us at COVID-19@reedsmith.com.

Client Alert 2020-134