Information for businesses concerning COVID-19

Updated July 21, 2020

Open-Air Marketplace will start on Monday, August 3rd
by John O’Brien, West Chester BID Executive Director
July 21, 2020

West Chester PA — After many hurdles, the downtown Open-Air Marketplace is set to be operational by the end of business on Monday, August 3rd. The borough received the final permits necessary on Monday July 20th to begin the process of closing Gay Street.

Starting the morning of August 3rd workers will begin the process laying the concrete barriers and road signage will be put up on Gay Street before the closure and on Chestnut Street. Additionally, hand sanitizer stations will be deployed and signage reminding people to wear a mask at all times unless eating will also be put up. All of this is being paid for by the BID.

The purpose of this closure is to allow customers to shop and eat in town while still maintaining proper social distancing and following all health guidelines. It is up to each of us to promote best health practices so that we can keep the pandemic at bay. Until a proper vaccine can be developed, we all need to take proper precautions. Remember, Masks Mean Business!

The Mayor will be creating a packet of information for the businesses on Gay Street to understand the Do’s and Don’ts of the Open-Air Marketplace, which will be distributed shortly.

This has been a long process and I know there still may be some unanswered questions about the Open-Air Marketplace.

If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me, John O’Brien,

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Governor Wolf announces additional restrictions for bars, restaurants, gyms and other businesses. Read more here.

West Chester businesses given priority consideration for grant program
A new round of grant funding has been announced by Governor Wolf. The $225M program is designed for small businesses showing less than $1,000,000 in annual sales and fewer than 25 employees. The application period is now in progress.

Grants are not awarded on a first-come/first-served; rather, each application will be considered based on program criteria.

Because West Chester BID, like other PA downtown revitalization programs, has been a Designated Main Street program, businesses located within the BID receive priority consideration.

To learn more about the small business grant program and application process, go to

See the informational webinar presented by the Chester County Economic Development Council.

West Chester Mayor Dianne Herrin has provided an up-to-date and accurate briefing on the Downtown Open-Air Marketplace occurring on Gay Street.

Chester County moving to the green phase June 26.

Requirements for restaurants.

Requirements for retailers.

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Statement from the Mayor and Chief of Police: Status of Rallies

Moving to the Yellow Phase
On Friday, June 5, enhanced restaurant services and retail shop services will be allowed.

Chester County Government extends essential services-only to June 4

Grant program up to $25,000 for small businesses established by Chester County Commissioners

Mayor Herrin’s BOROUGH BRIEFS:
The Pandemic: Current Status From the Governor’s Office. When Will We Reopen? How to Help Now.

Upcoming local workshops and seminars offered by SCORE

Benchmark Federal Credit Union Offers Up to $1 Million in Interest-Free Loans for Chester County Business Owners.

West Chester University Resource Pages for Businesses

Small Business Resource Center from American Express

SCORE of Chester and Delaware Counties: business assistance and SBA loan information

Paycheck Protection Program provides $349 billion in forgivable loans to small business employees during the COVID-19 crisis.–Fact-Sheet.pdf

Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist

The Federal CARES Act: Major Provisions | Implematation | Resources

Information for Businesses – COVID-19

Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry

Chester County Health Department COVID-19

Chester County Economic Development Council

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance

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List of Downtown West Chester retailers, online sales or gift cards

List of Downtown West Chester restaurants, take-out and delivery only

List of Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce businesses

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Text of letter from James L. Morehead, West Chester Borough Acting Chief of Police, to the business community:

March 24, 2020

We know in these uncertain times everyone is nervous and searching for answers. And while social media is an awesome way to communicate, it is also a breeding ground for rumors and misinformation.  I am here to assure you that the fine men and women of the West Chester Police Department are protecting this community 24/7.

The pandemic has forced everyone to take precautions, including Emergency Services, so we may keep our first responders well and strong. Please understand we are operating in a manner that changes our way of direct social interaction. However, we will continue to provide patrols of your businesses, even if currently closed, and respond to calls for service just as we always have.  For this reason, however, you may not see us as frequently, but please know we are here.

This COVID-19 pandemic is requiring all emergency services to re-evaluate operational procedures, while maintaining services.  We are asking for your patience as we steer through this rapidly changing environment and conduct our business in the safest manner possible.

Please, never hesitate to call the police for assistance.  You can reach our Dispatch Department 24/7 by calling (610) 696-2700.

We will address all concerns expeditiously and as cautiously as possible to minimize everyone’s exposure. The men and women of the West Chester Police Department look forward to continuing the high level of service that you have come to expect.

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March 24, 2020
West Chester PA — The Chester County Commissioners announce the extension of the County’s essential services-only operation to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The extended period runs to Monday morning, April 13, 2020. The Commissioners’ decision fully supports the “Stay at Home” order issued by Governor Wolf this week, and helps to protect the health and safety of both Chester County’s 2,400 full and part-time employees, and individuals and families throughout the county.

Chester County Government moved to essential services-only on Saturday, March 14 in advance of other counties in the region, taking the lead in measures to keep residents and employees as healthy as possible.

Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz said, “The County’s essential services have long been identified in our continuity of operations (COOP) plan, so while making the decision was not an easy one, enacting it was relatively straightforward.”

“Making that decision has proven to be very prudent,” added Moskowitz. “The build-up of prevention measures put in place over the past week by us, by the State and our neighboring counties have been necessary to make every effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. And although we have put an end-date of April 13th on our plan to return to full services, we will continue to evaluate and monitor the need to remain at essential services-only beyond that date.”

The essential services identified by Chester County Government range from the 9-1-1 Center, Chester County Prison, Pocopson Home long-term care facility, the Chester County Youth Center and the Coroner’s Office, to crucial court-related and Human Services functions. Following state guidelines, a no visitor policy remains at the Chester County Prison and at Pocopson Home.  Visitors to the Chester County Youth Center are answering a series of questions to determine if they are showing signs of coronavirus, and if they are, they are not allowed to enter.

Chester County Health Department and Emergency Services staff continue to work every day alongside the PA Department of Health and other partners, to provide education, mitigation, communication and investigation services related to COVID-19 for both Chester County and Delaware County residents. “The systems in place, and the efforts of the Health Department staff, are amazing to witness,” said County Commissioner Josh Maxwell.

“And as would be expected, we take measures every day to screen every person that enters the Health Operations Center and Emergency Operations Center, so that we can ensure that the people doing critical work during this pandemic are removed from the possibility of infection of coronavirus,” added Maxwell.

In the weeks since moving to essential operations, the Commissioners, the County’s administrative staff and department leaders have established special programs, services and public information to support individuals, families and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline said, “We are focusing our time on strengthening links with all county-based hospital systems to determine current and future testing capabilities for COVID-19.  We have also held a remote Town Hall gathering with vital information for our businesses through partnerships with the Chester County Chamber and Economic Development Council, and we maintain communication with all municipalities – all in an effort to meet the needs of everyone who has been hard-hit by this situation.

“We will not stop our focus on meeting the food, shelter and employment needs of everyone in Chester County, and encourage everyone do their part by following the Governor’s Stay at Home order and taking all precautions to get us through the coronavirus crisis.”

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March 20, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close. It is in effect now in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Enforcement actions against businesses that do not close physical locations is set to begin.

Special exemptions will only be granted to businesses that are supplying or servicing health care providers.

Food establishments can offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service, including alcohol.

“To protect the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians, we need to take more aggressive mitigation actions,” said Gov. Wolf. “This virus is an invisible danger that could be present everywhere. We need to act with the strength we use against any other severe threat. And, we need to act now before the illness spreads more widely.”

Pursuant to the Emergency Management Services Code, the governor is granted extraordinary powers upon his declaration of a disaster emergency, such as COVID-19. Among these powers, the governor may control the ingress and egress into the disaster area, the movement of persons, and the occupancy of premises within the disaster area, which has been established to be the entire commonwealth for the COVID-19 disaster emergency. The secretary of health separately is authorized under the law to employ measures necessary for the prevention and suppression of disease.

Separately, and taken together, the administration is exercising these powers to temporarily close all non-life-sustaining businesses and dine-in facilities at all restaurants and bars across the commonwealth. Persons must be removed from these premises to cope with the COVID-19 disaster emergency.

Failure to Comply and Enforcement
Failure to comply with these requirements will result in enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions.

The governor has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce the closure orders to the full extent of the law:

  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Pennsylvania State Police
  • Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions

Private businesses, local organizations and other non-compliant entities that fail or refuse to comply with the governor’s orders that protect the lives and health of Pennsylvanians will forfeit their ability to receive any applicable disaster relief and/or may be subject to other appropriate administrative action. Such action may include termination of state loan or grant funding, including Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project (RACP) grant funding and/or suspension or revocation of licensure for violation of the law.

Finally, in addition to any other criminal charges that might be applicable, the Department of Health is authorized to prosecute non-compliant entities for the failure to comply with health laws, including quarantine, isolation or other disease control measures. Violators are subject to fines or imprisonment.

Business Loans and Support
The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted to as they become available. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in addition to local funding partners, may also be a source of assistance for affected businesses.

The Wolf Administration today announced the availability of low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Businesses seeking guidance from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at or by calling 1-877-PA-HEALTH and selecting option 1.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit:

Contact Malcolm Johnstone at

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March 15, 2020

View original story

Harrisburg, PA – Under the guidance of the Department of Health (DOH), using his authority under the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration order, Governor Tom Wolf today ordered all restaurants and bars to close their dine-in facilities at 12:01 AM on Monday, March 16 in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties for 14 days to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses that offer carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so, but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited.

The administration has been working with business owners as well as state and local officials to gather input on this decision. The Wolf Administration will continue to monitor COVID-19 in the commonwealth, and at the end of 14 days will reevaluate and decide whether continued mitigation is needed.

“Ensuring the health and safety of Pennsylvanians is the highest priority as the state grapples with a growing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and as the virus continues to spread, it is in the best interest of the public to encourage social distancing by closing restaurants and bars temporarily,” Gov. Wolf said. “I understand that this is disruptive to businesses as well as patrons who just want to enjoy themselves, but in the best interest of individuals and families in the mitigation counties, we must take this step.”

“Social distancing is essential as more Pennsylvanians are testing positive for COVID-19,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “By taking these steps now, we can protect public health and slow the spread of this virus.”

Businesses that do not adhere to this order could face enforcement actions.

The administration has strongly urged non-essential businesses in the four counties to close during their county-specific mitigation periods to protect employees, customers, and suppliers and limit the spread of the virus through personal contact and surfaces. Allegheny County has adopted similar mitigation efforts.

The Department of Community and Economic Development and DOH are reaching out to businesses through a letter to provide guidance on the types of businesses that are urged to close. The letter also indicates to businesses that financial assistance opportunities are available to mitigate the financial impact of closures.

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March 14, 2020

West Chester PA — Today, State Representative Carolyn Comitta, West Chester Mayor Dianne Herrin, Greater West Chester Chamber President and CEO Mark Yoder, West Chester Business Improvement District Executive Director Malcolm Johnstone, and West Chester Borough Council President Michael Galey issued a letter to all “nonessential” businesses in the Borough of West Chester urging them to follow Governor Wolf’s directive to close as of March 15, 2020, for 14 days.

Governor Wolf issued this call to all nonessential businesses in Chester County today, citing the need to protect employees, customers and suppliers and to limit spread of the novel coronavirus through surfaces and contact. “We have nothing but praise for Governor Wolf’s actions. The Governor’s strong leadership and directives are what we need in this time of crisis,” said Representative Carolyn Comitta. “This will save lives.”

In their letter, the team of community leaders pointed to the fact that two presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus in Chester County are indicators the virus is spreading. “Experience across the globe clearly tells us this means we now have a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to slow viral spread,” reads the letter. “If we do not, experts agree social isolation requirements may become lengthy, businesses will experience much more substantial, long-term hardship, patient loads will exceed the capacity of our hospital system and healthcare workers, we will lose first responder and healthcare personnel due to quarantine and illness, and people we know and love will suffer greatly. The mortality rate from COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus, is high in people over 60 (3.6%-14.8%, depending on age) and in those with chronic serious medical conditions (5.6-10.5% depending onthecondition).”

The Governor’s directive, they wrote, is the only way to shorten the duration and severity of this pandemic. In a letter written today to business owners, Secretary of Health Rachel L. Levine, MD, and Secretary of Community and Economic Development Dennis M. Davin said: “We strongly encourage businesses to act now before the Governor or the Secretary of Health find it necessary to compel closures under the law for the interest of public health, including section 7301 of the Emergency Management Services Code.” West Chester Mayor Dianne Herrin added she will exercise powers under the Borough’s current State of Emergency to ensure businesses in her district close as urged by the Governor, but only if this becomes necessary. “I have faith this won’t be needed, however,” said Mayor Herrin. “Our business owners understand that slowing this pandemic is in their best interest, in every possible way. I know this is very hard for everyone, but thepeople of our community will not knowingly put our most vulnerable citizens at such grave risk.”

The group said it will work closely with West Chester’s businesses to support them throughout this process, and after the crisis wanes. “We are here for our businesses, and we will work creatively with them to help get them through this,” said Greater West Chester Chamber President and CEO Mark Yoder. “We will successfully reinvigorate our local economy, once we are assured our citizens are safe.”

Representative Comitta added that communities with growing numbers of coronavirus cases that have not yet closed nonessential businesses need to do so right away. “Philadelphia and the state of New Jersey need to take seriously the threat we face. We urge them to follow suit immediately, and learn from the experiences around the world,” she said. “We need everyone in the region to practice aggressive social distancing starting right now.” Comitta noted that PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr is in full support of the Governor’s leadership on this critical issue, and this lends further support to the businesses as they move through this crisis.

The following types of businesses are considered nonessential:

  • Community and recreation centers
  • Gyms, including yoga/spin/barre facilities
  • Hair salons, nail salons, and spas
  • Casinos, concert venues, and theaters
  • Bars
  • Sporting events facilities and golf courses
  • Non-essential retail facilities, including shopping malls (except for pharmacy or other health care facilities located therein)

NOTE: Restaurants should stay open for carry-out and delivery only. Grocery stores, gas stations, drive-through banks, and drug stores will remain open.

Read the Governor’s press release regarding closure of businesses in Chester County

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