Protesters Outside State Capitol Demand Governor Wolf Reopen Pennsylvania

Paige Dalto, Lead Copy Editor

On Monday, April 20th, the streets of downtown Harrisburg were filled with citizens protesting Governor Wolf’s stay-at-home order and the continued closure of non-essential businesses.

Hundreds of people crowded shoulder-to-shoulder, most without masks, in protest of the Governor’s orders to continue social distancing as well as the stay home order that was extended to Friday, May 8th.  Pennsylvania is home to an estimated 12.7 million citizens.

Governor Wolf recently announced the reopening of online vehicle sales as well as curbside wine and spirit pickup at select locations across the state to start immediately with the signing of Senate Bill 841. The Governor also stated that statewide construction projects would resume on May 8th. 

Governor Wolf emphasized that the reopening of the state will be gradual, not simply all at once. 

Pennsylvania has more than 33,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,200 deaths, according to the PA Department of Health.

This realization of staying in for an even longer period of time sparked frustration in many Pennsylvanians and led to the planning of the protest. 

According to ABC27 News, the event was organized by three groups – “Re-open Pennsylvania,” “End the Lockdown Pennsylvania,” and “Pennsylvanians Against Excessive Quarantine.” ABC27 reported that one of the group’s leaders stated that “Government mandating sick people to stay home is called quarantine, however, the government mandating healthy citizens to stay home, forcing businesses and churches to close, is called tyranny.”

Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, had previously spoken about the possibility of a protest in PA during the Q&A in the Thursday Press Conference. Dr. Levine stated that not abiding by these guidelines would result in “putting all of yourselves at risk,” as well as protestors being “more at risk for contracting the dangerous virus.”

The Department of Health warned protestors to respect the six-feet social distancing order as well as wearing facemasks and taking the necessary precautions, but many attendees chose not to comply with these requests.

The goal of the protest was to express to Governor Wolf that the economy should be reopened for healthy Pennsylvanian’s on May 1st.

Pennsylvania was not the only state to see recent protests regarding the quarantines. In the past week, California, Florida, Texas and six other states had public protests prior to the one in Harrisburg.

Governor Wolf reiterated the importance of abiding by the state orders to slow the spread of the virus. Compliance with the stay-at-home orders, as well as social distancing and utilizing the proper precautions, are the key to opening PA’s economy back up in a safe, timely manner.

A Harrisburg city police officer watches the ReOpen PA Protest on Monday, April 20, 2020. Police estimated the number of protesters to under 1,000, or 0.00078 percent of the Pennsylvania population. (Paul Weaver/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)