Voices grow louder in Bucks County asking Gov. Wolf to ease COVID-19 restrictions

BENSALEM TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- With small businesses falling into bankruptcy or closing permanently and people unemployed, the angst is growing in Bucks County, Pennsylvania amid the restrictions put in place by Gov. Tom Wolf amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Many say the time has come to reopen the county in a safe and responsible way.

"Forty-seven years it took me to be unemployed," said Bob Lutz who is one of the owners of the Green Parrot restaurant and pub in Newtown.

He says up until now he had been working since the age of 13. But now, his business has been shut down for 57 days and he, like many other Bucks County business owners, don't know how much longer they can stay closed and still survive.

"I don't see how it's gonna benefit anybody if 50% of the restaurants go out and other businesses go out," said Lutz.

"Our governor says, 'No, we're not allowed to do that.' Why not?" asked Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo in nearby Bensalem. He says he understands the anxiety people are feeling and the economic suffering caused by the shutdown.

"Something's gotta be done and fast. I will go anywhere and talk to anybody. I understand both sides of it. I understand the safety and I understand the business end of it," said DiGirolamo.

But Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health Rachel Levine has said they don't control the timeline for reopening, the virus controls the timeline.

"I mean what are we gonna do, stay like this forever, we can't, we absolutely can't," said DiGirolamo.

This week, Nick Andrews helped start a Facebook page called "ReOpen Bucks County PA." It now has over 1,000 members, mostly small business owners who want their political leaders to lobby the governor to allow them to reopen.

RELATED: Gov. Tom Wolf: 'Cowardly' counties 'choosing to desert' virus fight
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Gov. Tom Wolf blasted local elected officials who plan to reopen in defiance of his shutdown orders.



On Monday, Governor Tom Wolf blasted local elected officials who plan to reopen in defiance of his shutdown orders, threatening to yank coronavirus aid and declaring they are "choosing to desert in the face of the enemy."

"That's how they get by and feed their families. So to threaten them permanently, just to feed their kids, it feels very very vindictive. It feels like he's throwing a temper tantrum because he's not getting his way," said Andrews.

Meanwhile, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub is discouraging Bucks County police agencies from cracking down on businesses that defy the governor's shutdown orders.

"I need my police to be investigating crimes and to be responding to emergencies, so I really discouraged them from investigating it, enforcing the governor's orders," said Weintraub.

The group, "ReOpen Bucks County PA," now plans to stage a rally at the Bucks County Courthouse Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. They will be asking county commissioners to tell the governor the time has come to reopen Bucks County.

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