Several counties delay easing bans, as Md. stay-at-home order ends Friday

Chesapeake Bay Bridge
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is seen in 2015. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

More from: Prince George’s County Montgomery County Calvert County | Charles County | Anne Arundel County

With Maryland slated to move into Phase One of its coronavirus recovery plan Friday, several counties are delaying lifting the restrictions or adding modifications to their own reopenings.

Gov. Larry Hogan said county leaders who do not feel comfortable entering the first stage of the “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery” will be able to delay when their municipalities ease restrictions.

Phase One begins at 5 p.m. on Friday and includes the following:

  • The stay-at-home order has been modified to a “safer-at-home” advisory.
  • Retail businesses can reopen up to 50% capacity with strict safety precautions.
  • Manufacturing can resume operations with the state issuing guidelines encouraging multiple shifts and physical distancing, among other safety precautions.
  • Some personal services, such as barber shops and hair salons, may reopen at 50% capacity and by appointment only.
  • Churches and houses of worship may begin to hold religious services. Outdoor services are strongly recommended, and indoor services will be limited to 50% capacity, with requirements for masks and social distancing.
  • Restaurants, movie theaters and gyms will remain closed during Phase One.

But many counties in the surrounding D.C. suburbs are not ready to ease the restrictions, particularly Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, which have the highest numbers of infected residents in the state.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Thursday that stay-at-home restrictions in the county, which has almost 10,500 who have tested positive for the coronavirus, would be extended through June 1.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked “an unimaginable toll on our community,” Alsobrooks said.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said Thursday that the county is not ready to begin easing coronavirus restrictions and that he will issue a countywide stay-at-home order that will go into effect Friday evening when some statewide restrictions are lifted.

“We will change the rules as soon as the science says that we can change the rules,” Elrich said during a news conference. “When that happens, we will start down the road of reopening things.”

Elrich said the county hasn’t seen the number of coronavirus cases or deaths steadily declining, which he said is necessary to begin safely reopening.

Calvert County will follow state guidance on plans to reopen the county. But the Board of County Commissioners voted to extend the county’s emergency declaration by 30 days.

Charles County is postponing lifting its restrictions for two weeks until May 29, citing concerns about climbing infection rates in neighboring Prince George’s County and a potential lack of personal protective equipment among businesses that would reopen under the new guidelines.

Meanwhile, Anne Arundel County announced modifications in how it will implement the state’s recommendations for Phase One, which includes opening up retail stores for curbside pickup only, having hair salons operate by appointment only with one customer at time and restricting religious gatherings.

Howard County did not have a county stay-at-home order, and Executive Calvin Ball said Thursday that residents are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible and follow the governor’s “Safer-at-Home” advisory. Religious services may resume with 10 people or fewer, preferably in outdoor settings. And retail businesses may open but are restricted to curbside pickup or delivery only. Find out more here.

In Frederick County, small retail businesses may open up to 50% of their capacity, and animal adoption facilities, car washes and pet grooming facilities are permitted.

Face coverings are required to be worn by customers and staff inside any business or public space in Frederick County, and no gathering may exceed 10 people. Find out more here.

In Ocean City, Mayor Rick Meehan opened up the beaches and boardwalk last weekend; and on Thursday, city officials lifted the ban on lodging restrictions.

With the lifting of the stay-at-home order, along with continued federal aid, the projected $2.8 billion revenue loss by the end of the fiscal year on June 30 was changed to $925 million lost.

More than 490,000 people have filed for unemployment in Maryland in the last two months — an unprecedented number for the state, The Associated Press reported.

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.

WTOP’s Will Vitka, Rick Massimo, Jack Moore and Zeke Hartner contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up