The nationwide protests over COVID-19 shutdowns officially arrived in the Keystone state on Monday as hundreds of demonstrators packed Harrisburg. These protests were expected after weeks of tension and over 1.5 million residents unemployed. Governor Tom Wolf put through strong actions early on to reduce the risks of the foreign virus invading the commonwealth. Many supported the strict measures early on, but the overwhelming complaint of the protesters seems to be that the situation lacks any nuance.
Wolf’s list is extremely confusing and out of context. Many business sectors, machine manufacturing being one, are currently in a state of flux. HVAC and engine transmission manufacturing is allowed under his order but metalworking machinery is not.
The state owned liquor stores have been closed for a few weeks but re-opened on Monday. The stores will be doing online ordering and curbside pickup. Still, many small businesses have been forced to remain closed. The governor announced he also is planning to begin re-opening the state on May 8th. On that date, minor construction can begin while some other commerce can resume, including online auto sales.
After weeks of lockdown, however, an increasing number of PA residents are getting fed up, as evidenced by the scene in Harrisburg on Monday. Wolf – who is largely popular in the state – has been criticized for the inconsistencies in his directives. Pennsylvanians want to get back to work and question why certain businesses can open while others cannot. They argue that there’s no reasoning as to why so many businesses can’t be running if they were to follow CDC guidelines.
In fact, a bill was passed just this week by the State House and Senate to do just that. The party line vote would have re-opened many businesses deemed “non-essential” by Wolf while still following CDC guidelines. However, Wolf vetoed the bill with no real consideration.
But a response to that veto was made by hundreds of Pennsylvanians on Monday. Workers simply cannot operate much longer without collecting consistent paychecks. As a result, crowds packed the capital grounds to have their voice heard.
The group was made up of primarily Trump supporters who feel the stay-at-home orders were restricting their rights under the Constitution. The event was primarily organized by a Facebook group called, “Pennsylvanians against Excessive Quarantine”. The group argues that the state must open immediately, despite Wolf’s directives.