Protesters swarm Capitol as more restrictions take effect

Harrisburg protest
Photo credit Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images
HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the Pennsylvania’s Capitol building on Monday to protest Gov. Tom Wolf’s continued orders to close non-essential businesses. 

Protesters cheered as speakers began their addresses, as many carried signs with slogans like “Stop Crying Wolf” and “Get PA to Work.” 

In the street in front of the Capitol, vehicles — many also adorned with signs — honked their horns and revved their engines. 

The protesters say it's time to end the shutdown that has thrown at least 1.4 million Pennsylvanians out of work.

The crowd heard from members of the state Legislature sympathetic to their cause. One state representative told the crowd he is confident they will do whatever it takes to keep their workplaces safe. 

But even as he spoke, protesters looked on and lined up elbow-to-elbow along barricades — most of them not wearing masks.

The order, which took effect Sunday night, is meant to protect critical workers who can't stay home and are at heightened risk of contracting the new coronavirus, Wolf has said.

Business owners and managers who discover an exposure to someone who is infected must follow certain protocols, including deep cleaning of the premises and temperature checks of employees before they enter. Employees must be sent home if they have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.

Wolf previously closed schools and businesses deemed nonessential, and ordered residents to stay home unless making a trip related to health, safety or some other life necessity.

On Monday, Wolf announced the first steps toward the state's plan to slowly reopen after May 8. He said reopening the state will be evidence-based and will take place region by region, and business sector by business sector.

Today I’m announcing my plan for the future of Pennsylvania as we continue to battle #COVID19.The plan includes details on:1️⃣ Relief for Pennsylvanians2️⃣ Reopening Pennsylvania3️⃣ Recovery for Pennsylvanians

— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) April 17, 2020

Meanwhile, both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature are planning to return to session as Republicans push legislation that would take away some of Wolf's power to determine which businesses must remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Wolf, a Democrat, has said he will veto one bill sent to him last week and another that is expected to win House passage as early as Monday.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.