Listen up! Governor Larry Hogan has announced that the state of Maryland is heading into Stage Two of the reopening process following the coronavirus outbreak.
Pointing to the lowest number of hospitalizations in 50 days, a declining number of ICU beds and a statewide positivity rate at just 9.5%, the governor is ramping up the reopening process.
This latest move comes just a week after Hogan announced the start of outdoor dining and the completion of Stage One.
Steps in the Right Direction
Starting on Friday at 5:00 p.m., the order requiring non-essential businesses will be lifted. On Monday, June 8th, state government offices such as the MVA can begin a phased reopening process. Personal services such as nail salons and massage parlors are also able to open at 50% capacity and by appointment only. As expected, strict safety measures are required across the board. Transit schedules will also begin to return to normal and child care centers will start reopening.
However, indoor dining will have to wait as restaurants remain open for outdoor dining only. Many restauranteurs feel that indoor dining is necessary to bring back tourism this summer, especially in Ocean City.
Enclosed malls, theatres, senior centers, fitness centers, and recreational facilities such as bingo halls and miniature golf courses remain closed to the public.
The Governor added that the 10 person gathering rule is technically still in effect, yet that many are not following it, pointing to the thousands that have gathered to protest this week.
Toward the end of his remarks, the governor stated that in line with the end of the school year, amusement parks and sporting activities may eventually be allowed.
He also stressed that the Maryland coronavirus response team is still relying on data from the Maryland Department of Health and will halt the reopening process if the data begins trending in the wrong direction. However, many key metrics are now lower than ever before, showing that Maryland has indeed made significant progress in the battle against the virus. Despite the progress, teleworking and social distancing are still encouraged.
Hogan also touted the state’s strong testing capacity, as the state has now reached nearly 400,000 tests. He credits this accomplishment to the 500,000 tests he and First Lady Yumi Hogan secured from South Korea. Maryland is also increasing testing capability with a now fully operational Genome lab at the UMB School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences.
Ocean City Government
While Mayor Rick Meehan’s office was not available to comment Wednesday evening, one thing is certain. Restaurant owners are eager to return to normalcy. To assist those proprietors, beginning Thursday at 4:00 p.m., the mayor and councilmembers will begin reviewing applications for businesses to open for outdoor dining on public property such as sidewalks or parking lots. Special meetings for this purpose will occur at the same time each business day for as long as necessary.
George Floyd & Election Irregularities
Additionally, Hogan addressed the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests, saying that this “has served as yet another reminder that we still have a long way to go to live up to our nation’s highest ideals.”
He also commented on the irregularities reported during the primary elections Tuesday, asking for a full report along with hearings by the oversight committee to “safeguard our democratic process.” The governor’s remarks come as Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford and Comptroller Peter Franchot are calling for top election officials Linda Lamone and Armstead Jones to resign.
You can read the updated executive order from Governor Hogan along with guidance for reopening businesses at the links below.
For updated information regarding the key metrics Governor Hogan referenced during Wednesday’s press conference, visit the link below.