Some businesses staying open despite Governor Wolf's order

WILLOW GROVE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Across the Delaware Valley, most businesses are shut tight, and they are abiding by the restrictions of local officials to close their doors in the massive effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But some are not getting that message.

"I put on gloves, and went in and looked around," said Chris Coats, from Cheltenham, who went shopping inside the Barnes and Noble in Willow Grove, Montgomery County, which is one of the few brick and mortar stores still open.

"It's deserted, I don't know why they're making the people work here," said Coats.

Governor Wolf said essential businesses, like big box stores, can stay open, but he has strongly urged non-essential businesses to close for at least 14 days.

The Wolf administration's definition of nonessential businesses includes: community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, barre and spin facilities; hair salons, nail salons and spas; casinos; concert venues; theaters; bars; sporting event venues and golf courses; retail facilities, including shopping malls, except for pharmacies or other health care facilities within retail operations.

His administration said essential businesses include: grocery stores, banks, gas stations, big box stores, day cares, pharmacies and hardware stores, or stores that sell a range of consumer goods. Restaurants and bars in Philadelphia cannot have dine-in service, but can still offer takeout and delivery options.

Action News found Five Below in Willow Grove open, although running on reduced hours.

Some shoppers said they were taking precautions when going inside to shop.

"I have hand sanitizer in my bag, I have baby wipes and I have gloves as well to stay safe," said Shiverl Yongu, from Northeast Philadelphia.

Along Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, Action News saw a flower shop closed, following Governor Wolf's request, but in Cheltenham Township a hair store, Hair Buzz, was open, and nail salon, Bellagio Spa and Nail Care, was open in the Cheltenham Square Mall on Cheltenham Avenue.

"I'm not mad because I'm a stylist, so I know what it's like to have to keep running your business," said Ana Trippett, from Brewerytown.

Up the street in Abington Township, Ross Dress for Less was open on Old York Road, along with Raymour and Flanigan and Michaels.

Montgomery County currently has the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases of any other county, and on Wednesday, county officials stressed why it's prohibited to dine in at a restaurant.

"Montgomery County is prepared to go to court to issue an order for any Montgomery County restaurant who's violating the dine-in rule, to shut down the dine-in portion of their restaurant. We will not close the kitchen," said Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chair of Montgomery County.

Action News spoke with Joe Gale, Montgomery County's Commissioner, who said, so far, he doesn't know of any restaurants keeping their dine-in area open.

Governor Wolf said that he would not use force to close businesses, but he urged people to understand that all Pennsylvanians are in the fight together and said they owe it to one another not to spread the disease.
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