Coronavirus Pennsylvania: State Officials Concerned Monday’s Planned Protest Won’t Follow Social Distancing Guidelines
State officials are concerned the protesters won't follow social distancing guidelines.
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some Pennsylvanians are preparing for a protest to reopen the state’s economy. The demonstration will be held Monday in Harrisburg, and there have been similar protests across the country.
The event organizer says protesters are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines — they can even stay in their cars. But state officials are concerned that won’t actually happen.
“I think it’s unfortunate people don’t understand how serious this is,” State Sen. Sharif Street said.
Street saw reports over the weekend of protesters packing together and pushing back in the hundreds against stay-at-home orders in about a dozen states.
Now, a protest is scheduled for Monday in Harrisburg.
“If you create an environment for it to spread, it will,” Street said. “And so, in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s frustrating that people don’t get the message.”
Protesters like Donna Merritt, of Exter Township, Berks County, says Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home orders go too far. She adds the closure of all non-essential businesses hurts small businesses that sell some of the same products as big-box stores so she wants officials to find ways to safely reopen them.
“If you’re a healthy human being, you’re going to be just fine. America didn’t get to be the most innovative country by sitting still and doing nothing,” Merritt said. “We find ways to get stuff done.”
Merritt plans to go to the Monday rally in Harrisburg with her daughter. She expects between 7,000 and 10,000 people to flood the outside of the state capitol.
State and capitol police will be overseeing the protest, but it’s unclear how social distancing will be enforced.