The New Castle Police Department is being tasked with enforcing state government-mandated shutdowns as a result of a directive from the city mayor.
Mayor Chris Frye issued a statement Friday in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s Thursday order to shut down all “non-life sustaining businesses” across the state.
"The health and welfare of the citizens of New Castle is our top priority," Frye's statement reads. "City officials are committed to protecting citizens from the potential spread of COVID-19 and lessening the economic and financial impact as a result from such a shutdown."
Wolf's mandate is to close most businesses throughout the state, and he has made local jurisdictions responsible for enforcing the order.
"At my direction, the City of New Castle police, fire, health officer and administration will be educating local establishments and promoting social distancing in all settings," Frye said.
New Castle police, who are preparing for the enforcement measures, will be more visible in the community as a measure "to protect, not to elicit more fear," according to police Chief Bobby Salem.
"If there are businesses (or agencies) failing to comply with the order, we will approach them and tell them they' re required to shut down," Salem said.
"If the business continues to violate it, we will take enforcement action, which could be fines and citations, and we could have their licenses suspended by the Department of Health," he warned, adding that will be on a case-by-case basis.
The businesses need to be in compliance by this weekend, Salem said.
He said he met with his officers Friday to review the enforcement principles of the governor's order. The department also is adding more officers to its walking patrols to ensure places are complying.
"We want local businesses to survive, but we have a serious health issue and we want to protect people in this town," Salem said. "The current health situation overrides that."
Frye noted that the New Castle Fire Department is equipped to employ FEMA and PEMA medical assistance protocol, and the city's health officer, Patrick McGuire, is delivering information to all local establishments to help them navigate Wolf's order.
The lower level of city hall is also being prepared to serve as a temporary quarantine site should it be needed.
"In times of uncertainty and crisis, we are being proactive to support our citizens," Frye said. "Our community partners in both the private and public sectors have expeditiously organized to help our most vulnerable residents. By working together, we will continue to support one another to stay ahead of this pandemic and exit stronger as a community."