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Lawrence County Officials Urge Caution As Parts Of Pennsylvania On Verge Of Reopening

Shari Koscinski
90.5 WESA
Downtown New Castle, Pa.

While much of Pennsylvania remains in coronavirus lockdown, restrictions on businesses in the northwest and north-central parts of the state will begin to loosen on Friday. Lawrence County, closest to Pittsburgh, is one of 24 counties where retail businesses will be allowed to welcome in-person customers.

The governor’s decision helps address the economic realities facing many municipalities, said Morgan Boyd, Lawrence County’s Commissioner Chairman.

“This is recognizing that there are, you know, mom-and-pop stores, family-owned businesses that have been operational for generations that are hurting right now,” he said.

Linda Nitch, who directs the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation, said the decision is crucial for small businesses, especially nurseries and greenhouses. Many struggled to find capital to stay afloat during the shutdown, she said.

“It was imperative to them that they be able to be open with the growing season … and all these plants waiting to be purchased.”

Alexander McCoy, CEO of the Lawrence County Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, said he’s optimistic, but people need to be safe and smart, or the county could end up back in lockdown.

“Business owners will help police some of their customers, hopefully customers will help police other customers as well to continue to practice social distancing to the best of their abilities to ensure that doesn’t happen,” he said.

Last week, Governor Tom Wolf said every human contact is a chance for the virus to spread, and urged people to take personal responsibility.

Even as businesses re-open, state guidance requires masks, disinfection, and social distancing.