Gene Yaw

09/15/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/15/2020 13:52

Statement from Sen. Yaw on Sept. 14, 2020 Federal Court Ruling: What does the recent federal ruling mean for local businesses?

Generally speaking, the Western District of Pennsylvania's jurisdiction is limited to Erie, Crawford, Venango, Warren, McKean, Elk, Clearfield, Jefferson, Clarion, Butler, Mercer, Lawrence, Beaver, Allegheny, Armstrong, Westmoreland, Indiana, Cambria, Blair, Bedford, Somerset, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties. Under normal circumstances, the Judge's decision has effect only in those counties - not the entirety of the state. Because the Governor's Orders had statewide effect, however, there is an argument that the decision prohibits enforcement across the state; the decision does not clearly specify that it is statewide.

To the extent that the decision DOES apply statewide, the decision primarily deals only with the gathering limits of 25/250 people for cultural, educational, social, political and other expressive events. Judge Stickman's order does not address certain other business restrictions - like the recent restaurant capacity limits, gym limits, etc. He specifically indicated that those issues are not before him. That means that those orders are not affected by Judge Stickman's decision and remain in place.

The Governor has indicated that he plans to appeal to the Third Circuit, the federal court of appeals covering Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and that the Administration will ask for an emergency delay in the effectiveness of the lower court's ruling to preserve the status quo during the appeal. If the Court grants a stay, the gathering limits will remain in effect until the Third Circuit issues a final decision.