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Coronavirus In Pennsylvania: Senate Passes Bill To Reopen Businesses If They Follow CDC Guidelines

HARRISBURG (KDKA/AP) -- The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill on Wednesday to reopen businesses if they follow social distancing guidelines set by the CDC.

The House approved the bill on Tuesday.

The bill would direct Gov. Tom Wolf to develop a system based on guidance for businesses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and on an advisory memo on the topic sent out late last month by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Wolf closed businesses deemed not essential to sustaining life about a month ago and subsequently set up a review system for those who wanted permission to reopen.

Wolf hasn't explicitly said that he would veto it, although his health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, wrote to senators Wednesday to warn of the bill's "devastating" impact on the administration's ability to fight the virus.

Republicans accused Wolf of overseeing a haphazard and secretive process for determining which businesses must close, and which may remain open. Democrats, in turn, accused Republicans of ignoring health experts and risking lives. Republicans countered they were merely trying to force Wolf to adopt guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

House Speaker Mike Turazi was hopeful Wolf would sign the bill, while Senate Democrat Leader Jay Costa urged a veto.

"I think he's going to be very open-minded about it," Turzai said. "I know he hasn't intimated that he's going to veto it. I think he knows that other neighboring states are following this same approach."

"I would recommend that the governor take appropriate measures to look at," Costa said. "And then base the decision about vetoing upon the recommendation, as he as does throughout this process, speaking with health experts and allowing them to determine what's in the best interest of Pennsylvania."

Senate Bill 613 now heads to Governor Wolf's desk. He has 10 days to decide.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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