The Pennsylvania General Assembly does not have the unilateral right to terminate Gov. Wolf’s emergency declarations issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in a 4-3 decision on Wednesday.
In early June, Wolf extended his emergency declaration on the COVID-19 pandemic for an additional 90 days. A few days later, following the language of the Emergency Management Services Code, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a concurrent resolution with bipartisan support to terminate the governor’s emergency declarations.
Wolf challenged the General Assembly’s position that it had the ability to immediately and unilaterally end his emergency declarations. The governor argued that the Pennsylvania Constitution requires that the resolution be presented to him for his approval or veto.
The dispute was resolved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court holding that the concurrent resolution procedure relied upon by the General Assembly requires presenting the resolution to the governor for approval or the governor’s veto. Because the General Assembly failed to do this, the concurrent resolution has no legal effect. As a result, the governor’s emergency declarations continue to be in force.
For Realtors®, this means that the regulations and procedures issued by the governor relating to real estate activity remain in effect and should be complied with. This includes following the suggested best practices and continued use of the COVID forms. For any counties currently in, or that are returned to, the red or yellow reopening phases, this also includes the May 19, 2020, guidance specific to the real estate industry.
Additionally, an immediate expansion of the requirement to wear a face covering was announced on July 1. The Pennsylvania Secretary of Health expanded until further notice her order for wearing face coverings to include when people are:
- Outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of 6 feet from individuals who are not members of their household
- In any indoor location where the public is generally permitted
- While waiting for, riding on, driving or operating public transportation, ride-sharing, taxis or private car service
- When receiving healthcare services
- Engaging in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when interacting in-person with any member of the public or in any room or enclosed area where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or residence, are present when unable to physically distance.
Exceptions to wearing a face covering include due to a person’s medical condition, it creates an unsafe condition while working and someone who cannot remove the mask without assistance. No documentation is required to establish that a person meets any exception.
As this applies to Realtors®, face coverings should be worn whenever conducting real estate-related activities outside of your own residence. This includes in-person meetings with clients, showing properties, conducting open houses and attending closings.