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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Our offices are closed to public visits, but we continue to support you (some remotely) and are working hard to ensure that your PSATS team members can continue to provide you with uninterrupted, dependable service from your association. Your phone calls and emails will be directed/forwarded to the appropriate staff, who can respond quickly to your questions or concerns. You can find our staff directory or by calling 717-763-0930.

PSATS Daily COVID-19 News

Updated March 27, 2020

Commonwealth Extends Stay at Home Order
Today, Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine expanded the Stay at Home order to include Berks, Butler, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Westmoreland, and York Counties effective at 8 p.m. on March 27, 2020. The order will last until April 6 unless extended. Click here for guidance on the Stay at Home order.

As noted previously, local governments are exempt from this order but are urged by the commonwealth to use their best judgment in exercising their authority and to appropriately balance public health and safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical services and functions.

The full list of counties under a Stay at Home order now includes Allegheny, Berks, Butler, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Pike, Philadelphia Wayne, Westmoreland, and YorkCounties.

Governor Signs New Acts on COVID 19
Today, Governor Tom Wolf signed four new laws to help with the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania:

  • Act 9 of 2020 makes applying for unemployment compensation easier and waives the one-week waiting period.
  • Act 10 of 2020 extends payment and filing deadlines for the state personal income tax and local earned income taxes until July 15. This act also provides $50 million for the purchase of medical equipment and supplies for health care facilities.
  • Act 12 of 2020 reschedules the 2020 Pennsylvania primary election from April 28 to June 2 and allows counties to temporarily consolidate polling places.
  • Act 13 of 2020 waives the requirement for schools to be in session at least 180 days and provides the Secretary of Education with authority to waive student teacher and standardized assessments.

For more on these new laws and legislation important to townships currently before the General Assembly, be sure you are a member of PSATS’ Grassroots Advocacy Network. To join the network, email

PUC Prohibits Utility Terminations During Disaster Emergency
The PUC recently declared an emergency order prohibiting electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, telecommunication, and steam utility terminations. The moratorium will remain in place for as long as the proclamation of disaster issued by Gov. Tom Wolf remains in effect.Click here for more information.

PSATS Town Hall Recorded, Available for View
Couldn’t make last night’s Town Hall, where PSATS staff provided guidance and answered your questions on COVID-19-related questions? The free recording is now available for members through the following link:

COVID 19: Tell Us About Your Township
Our members have jumped in with both feet in response to COVID-19. We know you’re being attentive and resourceful……..but does the public and the media? Judging by some of the articles we’ve seen, we’re not so sure.

We’re compiling your personal stories for an article in the May Township News magazine and spreading some positivity along the way. For example: Have you organized a local food drive? Checked in on residents who you know are living alone? Come up with unique ways to hold your township meetings? Please tell us – no act is insignificant. Email a summary of your story to PTN Managing Editor Jill Ercolino at by Tuesday, March 31, and be sure to include your township’s name, county, and a daytime telephone number and/or email address. Jill can also be reached at (717) 763-0930, ext. 125.

PSATS Annual Conference Postponed
The PSATS Executive Board has decided to postpone the 2020 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show to a later date this year. As you can imagine, this was a very difficult decision, but the health and safety of everyone involved must take priority, and we believe it to be the best course of action. Please take a moment to view this video for more information about our plans for rescheduling the conference this year.

PSATS Daily COVID-19 News

Updated: March 26, 2020

PEMA Recommends that Townships Adopt Emergency Declarations

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is now recommending that all townships adopt their own emergency declaration even though the governor has already declared a state of emergency for the commonwealth.

This township emergency declaration is required in order to implement the township’s emergency operations plan (EOP) and activate the township’s emergency operations center (EOC), as well as to be eligible for any federal emergency reimbursement that may become available. If you need to obtain a sample emergency declaration for your board to adopt, contact your county emergency management agency.

As per prior guidance, note that Title 35 references a 7-day local declaration unless the board agrees to a different number. PSATS recommends a longer proclamation to avoid having a special meeting every 7 days with corresponding expenses and exposure. While the Sunshine Law allows the board to make a declaration in an emergency meeting, PSATS recommends that this decision be made or at least ratified at an advertised public meeting.

PEMA has advised that townships are asked to report costs related to the COVID-19 event for the previous week each Monday. PEMA has a template for submitting such costs, and townships should request that from their county emergency management agency.

FEMA Provides Guidance on Reimbursable Expenses Related to COVID-19

FEMA has provided guidance on the emergency protective measures that a township may take to respond to the COVID-19 emergency at the direction or guidance of state, county, or local public health officials that may be reimbursed under Category B of FEMA’s Public Assistance program.

This includes measures such as the management, control, and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety by running the township’s emergency operations center, providing training of township staff specific to the declared event, and disinfecting eligible public facilities; costs for security and law enforcement; and the purchase and distribution of food, water, medicine.

Click here for FEMA’s guidance.

Clarification on Remote Meeting Legislation
As mentioned yesterday, the House unanimously adopted HB 1564 on March 25. This legislation would allow municipalities, for the duration of a statewide emergency declaration, to conduct business through telecommunication devices provided they allow all members to hear and make comments on issues and allow for public participation to the maximum extent available.

HB 1564 would also allow municipalities to delay the approval of any and all applications that fall under the Development Permit Extension Act for the duration of the emergency.

This legislation is now before the Senate for its approval. However, a vote on this legislation has not been scheduled. Both the majority and minority chairs of the Senate Local Government Committee have indicated that they will not be taking up the matter of remote conduct of public meetings because they believe that municipalities already have the ability to address issues related to public and remote meetings under the emergency declarations. Please feel free to contact your State Senator.

The Association will continue to work with the General Assembly on this and other township issues. For more information on pending legislation, email

U.S. Department of Labor Clarifies Effective Date of FFCRA
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor clarified that it will not enforce the Families First Coronavirus Response Act until April 17, 2020, provided that employers are making a good-faith effort to comply. As noted yesterday, the act now takes effect on April 1, 2020.

For more information on the FFCRA, click here.

Township Tips – COVID-19 

Updated: March 25, 2020

Join Us for a PSATS Town Hall on Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken over the world, and the news is changing at a rapid rate. Townships, like many other essential industries, are trying to keep up with new information and changes. 
How can we have public meetings? Who are considered essential employees? Should we declare an emergency? These are just SOME of the questions townships are asking. Maybe these are questions you have asked. 
To assist in gathering all the COVID-19 information and answer your questions, PSATS is hosting our first-ever web-based Town Hall for township officials on Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m. Staff will provide guidance and answer your questions on a whole host of COVID-19-related issues. 
Participants will have the opportunity to submit questions before and during the meeting. This free town hall is limited to the first 500 registrants. 
To register, please click on the link below. 

DCED Provides Guidance on UCC Permits 
The state Department of Community and Economic Development has provided the following guidance on the matter of local officials and the acceptance and issuance of building permits under the Uniform Construction Code: 
It is the municipality’s decision. 

  • If the municipality or a third party decides to accept and review plans electronically, it can do that. Normal deadlines would apply. 

  • The municipality may make its own decision to not accept and review the plans. 

  • If the local authority accepts the application and a permit is issued, please note that any nonessential work is not allowed to begin based on the governor's list of "life-sustaining" and "non-life-sustaining" businesses. 

Commonwealth Extends Stay-at-Home Order 
Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine have expanded the stay-at-home order to include Lehigh and Northampton Counties, effective at 8 p.m. on March 25, 2020. The full list of counties under such an order now includes Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia Counties. 

U.S. Department of Labor Clarifies Effective Date of FFCRA 
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor clarified that the Families First Coronavirus Response Act takes effect on April 1, 2020, not April 2 as stated in yesterday’s correspondence. 
For more information on the FFCRA, click here
PSATS Government Relations Working on Important Issues 
Today, the State House unanimously passed legislation to assist local governments with guidelines for remote meetings as well as permit extension processes. The legislation now goes to the State Senate for consideration. In addition, PSATS continues to work with the General Assembly and the Governor's Office on other emergency related issues including responding to RTKL requests. 


Tuesday Township Tips - March 24, 2020

Updated: March 24, 2020 

Commonwealth Provides Clarification for Local Government 

Township officials should note that the guidance provided by the Commonwealth on the Stay at Home order clearly indicates that local governments are exempt from the non-life sustaining business closure order. The guidance states that “Governments should use best judgment in exercising their authorities and issuing implementation directives and guidance. All such decisions should appropriately balance public health and safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical services and functions. Government employees and contractors should continue to operate under the direction of their supervisors.” 

In addition, today Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine expanded the Stay at Home order to include Erie County, effective at 8 p.m. on March 24, 2020. The full list of counties under a Stay at Home order currently includes Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties. 

PSATS Town Hall Slated for Thursday, March 26 at 7pm 

PSATS will host a web-based Town Hall for township officials on Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m. for the first 500 registrants. Staff will provide guidance and answer your questions on a whole host of COVID-19 related questions. Stay tuned for registration information! 

Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act Impacts Township 

On April 2, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act takes effect. The Act requires that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide paid sick leave, as well as paid family and medical leave, to their employees in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This includes townships with fewer than 500 employees. 

Under the Act, an employee qualifies for expanded family and medical leave if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee: 

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; 

  1. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; 

  1. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis; 

  1. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2); 

  1. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or 

  1. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury. 

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for expanded family and medical leave if the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19. 

For more information, including the rate of paid leave that must be paid, click here.

Would a fellow township official like to receive these emails? If a fellow township official would like to receive these email updates on the latest COVID-19 guidance for townships, please email with their name, position, township, county, and email address. Please note that any change to a member township official’s email on record will require that the new address be used to as that member’s log-in to

PSATS will continue to post the most current guidance and resources on COVID-19 issues to, on the COVID-19 Information page. Please check back frequently

More Guidance for Township Safety (Published 3-23-2020)

Enforcement Guidance for Township Officials (Published 3-22-2020)

New COVID-19 Information for Townships (Published 3-21-2020)

Governor’s Order Closing all Non-Life Sustaining Businesses (Published 3-20-2020)

PSATS Webinar "Coronavirus - What Public Employers Need to Know" Now Available

PSATS Advice for Townships on Governor’s Proclamation (Published 3-16-2020)

What steps can our township take to protect our community from COVID-19? (Published 3-13-2020)

PSATS Monitoring Coronavirus Developments (Published 3-10-2020)


Centers for Disease Control

The Pennsylvania Department of Health

National Institutes of Health

Township-Specific Suggestions for Dealing with the Coronavirus from Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC

CDC Guidance for Police and Emergency Responders

Office of Open Records Guidance on Public Meetings

Emergency Management Handbook for Elected Officials (contains sample emergency declaration and procedures)

Letter to LEO Community Regarding Enforcement of Closure Orders (3-21-2020)

FAQ for Township as EMployers (by Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC)

Order of The Governor of The Ccommonwealth of Pennsylvania Regarding The Closure of All Businesses That Are Not Life Sustaining (3-20-2020)

Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Regarding The Closure of all Businesses That Are Not Life Sustaining (3-20-2020)

Life Sustaining Businesses

Life Sustaining Businesses Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


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