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Erie Mall Owners File Suit Against Pa. Gov.

ERIE, Pa. — Cafaro-Peachcreek Joint Venture Partnership, owners of the Millcreek Mall in Erie, have filed suit in federal court against Gov. Tom Wolf and Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania health secretary, seeking to reopen the mall.

The suit demands that the mall be permitted to operate and to prohibit Wolf and Levine from continuing to restrict the mall in what the mall’s owners said is an arbitrary and capricious manner.

On March 16, 2020, the state ordered the mall to close in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On May 8, most retailers in Erie County were permitted to reopen. However, Millcreek Mall has not been allowed to reopen because the state deemed that “enclosed malls” were not eligible to reopen while the county remained in the “Yellow Phase” of Wolf’s reopening plan. Only those retail businesses with exterior entrances have been able to operate. This is a financially disastrous situation for those businesses only accessible from the mall’s interior concourse.

Mall ownership said the decision by the state violates the mall’s rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process provisions of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

To date, state officials have failed to provide an explanation for its restrictions. While other counties with higher COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations have been able to move into the “Green Phase”, Erie County has not.

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