HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Gov. Tom Wolf is no longer just recommending ‘nonessential businesses’ to close, he’s telling them to.

Wolf ordered that all ‘non-life sustaining businesses’ in Pennsylvania close their physical locations at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 19 or risk law enforcement action.

This is to slow the spread of COVID-19, the release said.

Enforcement will begin 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 21. Failure to comply with Wolf’s order could result in citations, fines, or license suspensions.  

In extenuating circumstances, special exemptions will be granted to businesses that are supplying or servicing health care providers.

“To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions,” Wolf said in the release. “This virus is an invisible danger that could be present everywhere. We need to act with the strength we use against any other severe threat. And, we need to act now before the illness spreads more widely.”  

The governor’s order has garnered swift push back and criticism from some Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers.

House Republican leadership said in a statement:

“The Wolf Administration set off a panic [Thursday] throughout the Commonwealth with its edict to shut down employers. The ill-prepared actions, announced after normal business hours, are not only an economic blow to every worker in the state right now but will have ramifications long into the future.”

Senate Republican leadership also said in a statement:

“We understand the dire health crisis COVID-19 presents in the Commonwealth. We understand that we are in uncharted territory as we try to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

“At the same time, we know that every business is life-sustaining to someone – whether employers or employees. The economic devastation that is being caused will last long into the future, especially for small-business owners. Because of the manner in which the Governor released this information, we have more questions about his unilateral decision than there are answers.”

Below is a list the Governor’s Administration has deemed essential/non-essential, and you can also click here to read it.