Apr. 06, 2020

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee today approved a bill introduced by Rep. Brad Roae (R-Crawford/Erie) that’s intended to enable small businesses to serve their customers in a way that complies with public health officials’ recommendations for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

“My goal is to enhance social distancing by enabling Pennsylvanians to shop at smaller stores rather than large grocery chains or big box stores,” Roae said.

Gov. Tom Wolf recently enacted a statewide shutdown of all businesses he deemed non-life sustaining enterprises. The administration at first provided a waiver application process, but it shut that down on Friday.

Roae’s bill would allow a retail business staffed by one employee to open for business as long as it allowed only one customer into the store at a time. Roae’s bill would enable shoppers to visit smaller venue retailers and avoid the larger crowds often associated with big box stores.

“This would limit the customer’s interaction to one person, whereas if they go to a big box store, they could come in contact with hundreds of other people,” Roae said.

Roae’s bill specifically would prevent the governor from closing retail stores that comply with his one-staffer, one-customer rule.

The committee approved Roae’s bill while many of its members voted remotely from their districts. The remote voting process was made possible due to a rule change approved by the House in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Roae’s bill now heads to the full House for consideration.