Protesters in Center City Philadelphia demand end to Pennsylvania business closures

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Governor Tom Wolf announced on Friday that 13 additional counties will reopen in a week.

That includes Pittsburgh, but not Philadelphia.

That didn't sit well with some workers in our region, who took to the streets of Center City to say it is time to reopen.

They honked and tried to send this message to lawmakers: people are on the brink of financial ruin.

"This is wrong on every single level. The collateral damage is going to be far worse than what is happening: a rise in depression, a rise in suicide, child abuse is on the rise," said Cheryl Carroll of Old City.

"Everyone is an adult. Everyone knows what to do. We don't need the government telling us what to do," said Robert McMasters of Bridesburg.

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The protest was largely peaceful, though one man blocked the caravan of protestors on Broad Street. He mangled a windshield wiper in the process.

Action News reporter Chad Pradelli asked him why he did it.

"He hit me with his car," the man said. "He hit me with his car."

The driver denied the charge, saying he rolled forward to move along. "They need to arrest this guy," he said.

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These protestors are angry that Governor Tom Wolf keeps extending the finish line for quarantine in our region. It's now set for June 4th.

They worry the line will continue to move as other states accelerate opening.

"I understand that frustration, I share in that frustration. This virus is a frustrating, virus it is sneaky, and it is deadly and it is very contagious," Gov. Wolf said.

As some barbershop, restaurant and retail owners plead to reopen, the governor and his health secretary are holding firm to what they call the science.

The process will be slow, and vary by industry, but dentists will soon be back on the job with guidelines.

"Providers may perform non-aerosolizing, non-urgent to non-emergent care only if proper PPE per OSHA guidance is available for the entire dental team," said Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.

Mayor Jim Kenney released this statement in response to the protestors:

"One of the great things about this country is that right of anyone with any viewpoint to peacefully gather to voice their views, even in the midst of a pandemic. We thank members of the Philadelphia Police Department Civil Affairs Division, and other officers, for their help in ensuring peaceful demonstrations today, even as they buried one of their own. We hope that demonstrators practice social distancing guidelines, and wear masks, to protect those officers on the front lines. However, we are aware of some inappropriate behavior that was addressed by officers.

While we respect these individuals' rights to protest, it is still the position of Mayor Kenney and the Administration that our decisions will be based on public health guidance. We will not sacrifice lives for the sake of reopening.

The Kenney Administration is comfortable with the Governor's plan and is currently in discussions with state officials, and leadership in the suburban counties, on a more detailed plan specific to Southeastern Pennsylvania. Within the parameters set by the Governor, we're confident that a regional plan tailored to our population density and other factors, is appropriate, and we look forward to announcing that in the near future.


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