PA’s Wolf Announces Reopening Plan

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has laid out a six-point phased plan that would lead to the reopening of the state, including the 12 shuttered casinos.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a plan to reopen the commonwealth, including the 12 casinos that have been shut down since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In an address to citizens on April 17, Wolf called on the state legislature to pass several relief measures for businesses and individuals as the state gradually reopens its businesses.

“Over the next few weeks, we will need to continue our social distancing efforts while we continue to plan for a phased reopening,” Wolf said. “There is no magic wand to wave to get us back to where we want to be. I will work every day to repair the damage this virus has caused.”

Wolf emphasized the state’s reopening should only occur once adequate testing for the Covid-19 virus is available and health-care officials have adequate personal protective equipment. He said there must be a monitoring and containment system at the ready, and that unnecessary large gatherings will remain banned until further notice.

Wolf laid out six standards that will need to be met before a gradual reopening can begin:

  • The approach must be “data-driven,” informing a regional approach to reopenings;
  • The state will have guidance for employers, individuals and health-care facilities for “assured accountability” during reopening;
  • Adequate personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing must be available (Wolf did not specify what exactly the capacity would need to be);
  • There must be a monitoring and containment system to deal with new cases of the disease after reopening has begun;
  • Protections for vulnerable populations must remain consistent throughout reopening; and,
  • Limitations on large gatherings unrelated to occupations must remain in place throughout the reopening process.

Wolf also proposed legislation to offer relief to Pennsylvanians, including expansions of paid sick leave and unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance, and called for changing the law so no Pennsylvanians would be denied health insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions, “no matter what happens at the federal level.”

In related news, officials in Bucks County, home of Bensalem’s Parx Casino, have announced that the county is making $150,000 in host-community casino revenue taxes available to the Covid-19 Emergency Nonprofit Relief Program, which aids local nonprofit relief efforts related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The funds are being distributed to nonprofits through the county Redevelopment Authority (RDA).

“Our nonprofits have shown an amazing ability to meet the public’s need on shoestring budgets, but now they would have almost no ability to assist if it weren’t for the generosity and quick response of the RDA,” commissioner Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia said, according to the Bucks County Courier Times.

Funds must be used to support human and emergency services, health and public safety or facility costs. Eligible nonprofits can apply for a maximum grant of $10,000 by submitting a request at by May 1.

“During this unprecedented time, the Redevelopment Authority is going to do everything possible to support Bucks County communities,” Jeff Darwak, redevelopment authority executive director, told the Courier Times. “I want to thank the county commissioners and county staff for their efforts to initiate these emergency relief programs.”

The money for nonprofits is in addition to $600,000 in gambling revenues set aside as part of the emergency economic rapid response loan program that offers one-time loans to private companies in the tourism and hospitality industry in the county.