Businesses in Maryland that were deemed nonessential and ordered to close amid the coronavirus pandemic will be able to reopen Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced.
REOPENING PLANS AROUND THE REGION:
Effective 5 p.m. Friday, Maryland is lifting the order requiring the closure of nonessential businesses.
Hogan’s latest order means that the following types of businesses can reopen:
- Large and small retail shops
- Specialty vendors
- Tattoo parlors
- Tanning salons
- Massage parlors
- Nail salons
- Bank branches and other financial institutions
- Real estate offices
- Other offices, including information technology firms, legal offices, accounting, insurance agencies, design studios, advertising and architectural firms, and media production companies.
Outdoor businesses that may reopen:
- Golf courses and driving ranges
- Outdoor archery and shooting ranges
- Marinas and watercraft rental businesses
- Horse boarding and riding facilities
- Drive-in movie theaters
- Outdoor swimming pools
- Outdoor day camps
- Tour boats.
Churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious gathering places can open at 50% capacity.
A ban on indoor restaurant dining remains in place.
Senior centers, fitness centers, theaters and malls also remain closed, as well as bowling alleys, bingo halls, mini golf places and amusement parks.
At a briefing Wednesday, Hogan said that with the state’s improving health metrics, Maryland is now ready to enter the next phase of his reopening plan.
“Our testing capacity, the drop in positivity, hospitalizations and ICU bed and all of these metrics — allow us to now safely begin Phase Two of our ‘Roadmap to Recovery,’ and to take more steps that are critical for getting our economy back on track and getting more Marylanders back to work,” Hogan said.
Hogan said that returning businesses should take a number of health precautions to minimize the risk of spreading the virus, such as wearing masks, conducting daily health screenings of employees — such as a temperature check — shortening workweeks or staggering shift start times, and continuing to telework where possible.
“While we’re excited to get much of our economy restarted, I want to be very clear: Just because Marylanders can return to the office doesn’t mean that they should,” Hogan said. “And employees that can telework should continue teleworking whenever possible … Safety must remain a top priority for every single business in our state. No worker wants to give this virus to his or her co-workers, and no employer wants an outbreak at his or her workplace.”
On Monday, some state government offices, such as the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, will begin to reopen. These services will be by appointment only.
Noticeably absent from the Phase Two presentation was a discussion of group gatherings.
When asked, Hogan said that the limit was still set at 10 people, but with the ongoing protests, it did not seem that people were going to abide by it.
Counties decide whether to enter Phase Two
As with Phase One, counties and municipalities can decide to delay entering Phase Two if they feel they need more time to meet reopening metrics.
Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, the hardest-hit regions in the state, both entered Phase One of reopening earlier this week, on Monday.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Thursday that it will move to Phase Two on June 15. Outdoor recreations, retail stories, restaurants and religious institutions will be allowed to reopen in the county as part of Phase Two.
In a Wednesday news conference, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said that though health metrics are trending in a positive direction, it’s too soon to talk in detail about what Phase Two will look like in the county.
Elrich tweeted that the county would evaluate Hogan’s new order to determine “if any of his Phase 2 provisions will work with our Phase 1 policies and guidelines.”
Frederick County will follow Hogan’s order and enter Phase Two on Friday afternoon. Non-essential businesses and personal services businesses will resume operations at half capacity.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced Thursday that the county will enter the Phase Two reopening as Hogan scheduled. That means nail salons, tattoo parlors and massage businesses will reopen under health department guidance, effective 5 p.m. Friday.
Nonessential businesses not explicitly told to remain closed by Hogan’s order are also allowed to reopen. Face coverings and social distancing are required for all customers and employees.
“We remain concerned that these reopenings could send a signal that this virus is no longer a threat to our residents,” Pittman said in a statement Thursday. “That is not the case. With new cases averaging over 80 per day, the only way to make this work is strict adherence to face coverings, social distancing and best practices.”
Howard County said in a news release it plans to enter Phase Two on Friday, allowing indoor church services and opening the restrooms at county parks, among other things.
Charles County‘s commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved moving to Phase Two like other counties at 5 p.m. Friday, although retail stores within malls will remain closed in Phase Two.
It was also noted that patrons should continue to maintain social distancing, wear face coverings and businesses should frequently disinfect high-touch areas.
The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners announced Thursday that the county will also enter Phase Two, effective 5 p.m. Friday. Protective health guidelines and social distancing should still be followed.
Calvert County’s government is open, but buildings remain closed to the public. County playgrounds, basketball courts and skate parks will reopen to the public Friday.
Starting Monday, the county’s public transportation will operate with regular service along all routes. Saturday transit service will still be canceled until further notice. Residents must cover their faces on buses, and riders per vehicle will still be limited.
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Hogan on protests after George Floyd’s death
Hogan called the killing of 46-year-old Minneapolis man George Floyd while in police custody a “senseless murder … which has served as yet another reminder that we still have a long way to go to live up to our nation’s highest ideals.”
Hogan said he was “incredibly proud” of the example the city of Baltimore set for the rest of the country during their protests.
“We’re one of the only cities in America that did not have lots of violence and looting and burning — and it’s because the police and the community leaders and the protesters were working together very, very well, and I think that’s a great sign,” Hogan said.
When asked about the incident where police used pepper spray and other tactics to force protesters away from St. John’s church near Lafayette Square in D.C. so that President Donald Trump could pose for a photo, Hogan said it was “the opposite response” that his administration has taken to dealing with protests.
Hogan said that those taking part in protests should seek out a testing site to get checked for COVID-19.
“I am concerned that so many people are gathered closely together,” Hogan said. “And we have free coronavirus testing widely available in every jurisdiction, and I would encourage people that if you were in close proximity with a whole lot of people that you should take advantage of that and get one of these available tests.”
“I would also encourage — particularly a lot of young people out in that crowd — to just be careful,” Hogan said. “I wouldn’t be hugging grandma until you get one of these tests.”
WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher contributed to this story.