PA – “Non-Life Sustaining” Business Closure of Physical Locations Questions and Waiver Process – Required Shut Downs

As you are likely aware, on Thursday, March 19th, by Executive Order, the Wolf Administration ordered the physical location shut down of all “non-life sustaining” businesses in order to attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A list of what qualifies as “non-life sustaining” was published on line and is attached for your review. Some businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, e.g., are very logical, others are a bit more surprising (e.g., beer and liquor sales).

Per Governor Wolf’s and the Department of Health’s orders, businesses that were non-life sustaining were ordered to close their physical locations on March 19, at 8:00 PM.

As of last evening, March 20th, these orders are still effective, however, the enforcement timing will change and become effective on Monday, March 23, at 8:00 AM.

If you are not sure if your business falls within a GREEN area (one that is permitted and life sustaining) or a RED area (one that is not deemed to be life sustaining and therefore must close your physical location) per the Commonwealth’s chart, there is a process to inquire, ask questions, and ask for a waiver.

Questions and Waiver Requests:

Those businesses requesting clarification on whether they are defined as life-sustaining should check the list, and can email the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) customer service resource account at, or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH and select option 1 to reach DCED staff.

Please note that the list has been modified since its original posting on Thursday and some additional notes have been added (including some construction related notes).

For businesses that determine from the list that they are non-life sustaining, but would like to seek a waiver, there is an online waiver application.

When a business completes a waiver form, a team of professionals at DCED will review each request and respond based on the guiding principle of balancing public safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions. Those requesting a waiver will be notified via email if their operations may re-open.

NOTE – Per updates issued last night, businesses applying for a waiver are REQUIRED to remain closed until a decision is made about their application. This is NEW.

Also, please be aware that DCED offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted to as they become available.

In addition, Governor Wolf announced the availability of low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Attaching the updated list of life-sustaining and non-life sustaining businesses as of 5:45 pm on 3-21-20 – NOTE that this list has been modified 2x since original date of publication on Thursday so please make sure you are looking at the most up to date list –

To list is attached and available here:

We will continue to track local and national information and report as new news becomes available through our COVID taskforce. If you care to look directly, go to and

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us via email and we will call you back to discuss your concerns.  We can be reached at any of the following email addresses and will direct your inquiry to the appropriate person within our COVID Taskforce –;; or

Be safe.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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