Growing number of Pennsylvania businesses defy governor’s orders to close

A growing number of Pennsylvania businesses are opting to defy Gov. Tom Wolf's shutdown order and many say the move is a matter of survival. 

For the hundreds of businesses statewide defying the order, they say the cost of closing down is worse than the prospect of a fine.

At the Green Parrot in Newtown, they added a patio last winter. The doors and windows are open and there is a fireplace and ventilation. The patio remains open for business while the rest of the 120-seat restaurant remains idle.

"The Board of Health said it was inside. I said 'no, it's outside.' I showed them the paperwork for it," said owner Bob Letz.

Like the rest of the state, Letz's predicament started when Gov. Wolf and his administration banned indoor dining through at least January 4 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"We have decided to use our outdoor patio with social distancing to turn around and keep the staff during the Christmas holiday so they can make some money for Christmas time.

The new restrictions on indoor dining went into effect two weeks ago, and now there's a growing list of businesses openly, and some covertly, defying the rules.

They've cited statistics that show spread has been minimal in restaurants.

"We're trying to maintain until we can turn around and get back to normalcy, but when will that normalcy be? Two months? Six months? A year?" Letz asked.

The sprawling Newtown Athletic Club is another Bucks County business that announced it would also stay open amid the shutdown order.

"You can go to Walmart, you can go on a plane with 300 people. That's okay, but you can't come to a health club?" asked member Jim McKissick.

On its website, the NAC outlines its COVID-19 protocols, reinforcing its commitment to following CDC guidelines, saying "while distancing may be a part of our new normal, staying active and connected are more important than ever."

Enforcement of the governor's order has been a web of uncertainty, but state police have issued warnings to some businesses.


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