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Business Owners Left Confused After Judge Rules Gov. Wolf's Coronavirus Restrictions Unconstitutional

WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) - Governor Tom Wolf issued a strong response during his weekly briefing on Tuesday after a federal judge ruled his shutdown order, gathering limits and business closures unconstitutional.

As his office plans an appeal, business owners are left in a state of confusion. And despite the ruling, many orders -- like mandatory mask-wearing -- still stand.

The court ruling also doesn't impact any business occupancy restrictions currently in place, like those for personal care services, indoor recreation and health and wellness facilities, entertainment venues or bars and restaurants.

Bob Steffl, who owns Napoli's Restaurant in Washington, is just one business owner ready to get back on his feet.

"The money doesn't fall out of the sky, you have to take it out of your savings account, your bank account and your 401k," said Steffl.

He said he plans to make some changes after Monday's federal ruling that the state's business closures are unconstitutional.

"It's not a victory. It's a little bit of a sigh of relief that maybe we can start chipping away at what we lost. We will never recover what we lost, once it's gone, it's gone. Once you've lost days, you can never replace them," Steffl said.

He hopes by following CDC guidelines and letting more people in the door, the industry may recover.

"We can get 8 to 10 people at our bar and not lose it all, I mean we have sporting events people want to sit and watch the sporting events," Steffl said.

After KDKA talked to a number of businesses, we found out not all owners are ready to walk that line.

"I just feel there would be repercussions and I'm not willing to it's just not worth it, you just got to do what you got to do," said Cathy Hoskins.

Hoskins owns Classy Cuts in Waynesburg and was a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit. Despite the judge's ruling, she feels that her state license in in jeopardy if she would not follow the current restrictions.

"We have no control over our own destiny and our own business and it breaks my heart," Hoskins said.

Meanwhile Governor Wolf said on Tuesday he plans to appeal and continues to stand by the decision to shutdown and close businesses.

"I believe the vast majority of Pennsylvanians understand that what we had to do in the beginning was necessary to keep people safe before we got the capacity to address what we needed for this virus," Wolf said.

KDKA did reach out to the Governor's Office to find out if businesses with a state license like liquor or cosmetology could be in jeopardy if an owner moves against the current restrictions. A spokesperson for the Governor's Office said enforcement will still take place for those businesses and this ruling does not change that.

"The orders that the governor and I put in place on mask-wearing, mandatory telework, worker safety, building safety and hospital safety are all still in effect to protect Pennsylvanians, especially our frontline workers," Dr. Levine said in a statement.

"These existing – and still valid – orders were put in place in the absence of any federal leadership at a time when life-saving decisions needed to be made. Saving lives has been the cornerstone of all of our decisions, including the orders referenced in the case that have since expired.

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