Anne Arundel Co. to start reopening businesses June 1, limiting occupancy based on square footage

Anne Arundel County announced that it will start the reopening process June 1 with measures that will make it the first in Maryland to set maximum occupancy for nonessential businesses based on gross square footage.

“This action allows small businesses to operate and people to get back to work, while limiting the potential spread of the virus,” Executive Steuart Pittman said. Among those included are barber shops and beauty salons.

Having a maximum occupancy by square footage has a direct relationship to safe social distancing requirements, the county executive’s office said in a news release.

Currently, an executive order mandates that these businesses operate with curbside pick up only. Beginning June 1, they can be open to customers with the maximum number of occupants inside calculated based on 150 square feet per person. The number includes both customers and employees.

Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines of a 6-feet distance between people, the area of a 6-foot distance around a person is approximately 113 square feet.

“The 150-square-foot area for nonessential retail businesses represents a reasonable margin of safety since employees and customers move throughout the store and are not spaced equally at all times,” according to the county executive’s office.

Beginning June 1 for barbers and beauty salons — which are currently open for hair services only, but limited to one customer per establishment — the maximum number of occupants will be calculated based on 100 gross square feet per person. This is because these businesses have a small footprint and close personal interaction that cannot be avoided in order to provide service, the county said.

Gross square area is the “sum of all areas on all floors of a building included within the outside faces of its exterior walls, including all vertical penetration areas, for circulation and shaft areas that connect one floor to another,” according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The county health department is preparing specific details and guidance for businesses on protective measures they need to have in place regarding physical distancing and face coverings. They will be released next week.

“We all want this to succeed, so I am confident that our business owners, employees, and customers will comply with safety guidelines and help our county businesses reopen responsibly,” said Pittman, who announced the new measures following meetings with a county recovery work group, discussions with health officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman and input from business and community leaders.

When coronavirus restrictions lifted last week as Gov. Larry Hogan’s Phase One went into effect, Anne Arundel County officials detailed what it was comfortable easing and what it was going to maintain.

The implementation of the new measure is dependent upon continued progress based on the county’s public health metrics.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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