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Baltimore to ease some coronavirus restrictions Monday, moving into its own phase one of recovery

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced the city is lifting more coronavirus-related restrictions beginning Monday and unveiled a three-stage reopening plan that varies slightly from state guidelines.

The city soon will allow barbershops and hair salons, camps, child care, and outdoor religious services to resume with limitations, Young said Friday. Religious institutions will be allowed to have tented outdoor services for up to 50 people with physical distancing and face coverings.

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Child care providers will be allowed to resume service with up to 10 people per room, Young said. Camps will be allowed to open with nine children and one counselor per room, and 50 people per outdoor space.

Hair salons and barbershops can only service five people per 1,000 square feet, and by appointment only.

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Some city services are resuming, too. The Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar, under the Jones Falls Expressway, will reopen at 7 a.m. June 14, Young said. The Enoch Pratt Free Library will begin a sidewalk service and book by mail program June 15.

While Young, a Democrat, said Baltimore is moving into phase one of recovery, the restrictions outlined in the city’s plan are slightly different from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s “Maryland Strong Roadmap for Recovery” plan. For example, limited capacity retail and indoor religious services remain prohibited.

The city previously lifted restrictions to allow outdoor dining and curbside pickup for stores. Parks are still open to residents, and hotels and accommodations can reopen Monday with appropriate safeguards in place.

Hogan, a Republican, announced Wednesday that the state was moving into the second phase of his three-phase reopening plan, allowing most businesses deemed nonessential to resume. He has given cities and counties the authority to keep stricter measures in place.

Officials in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties all plan to adopt Hogan’s stage two guidelines, which went effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

Young said he’s confident the city is ready to roll back some restrictions after reviewing the city’s coronavirus data with Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. Baltimore is "cautiously optimistic that we can enter phase 1,” but Dzirasa said the virus is still “causing death and disease” in the city.

“We think it would be reckless to jump into phase two when we haven’t fully been in phase one,” Dzirasa said. “It’s also possible we could see spikes with the protests, so we want to be able to monitor the data closely in phase one before we consider moving on to phase two.”

Phase two in Baltimore would allow for additional child care providers and outdoor events with up to 50 people. Libraries, museums, gyms, offices, religious buildings, restaurants and retailers would be allowed to reopen with limited capacity.

More restrictions will be lifted on offices and the other aforementioned establishments in the city’s third stage. Bars, nightclubs and pools also could reopen with limits, and all parks and recreation spaces would reopen as well. The city’s third stage, unlike Hogan’s plan, doesn’t mention fewer restrictions on visitors at nursing homes and hospitals.

If the city sees a five-day increase in percentage of positive tests, new cases and deaths, the city will return to stay-at-home measures. If those metrics improve over 14 days, the city will decide whether to enter new phases of reopening. The city also is tracking the use of hospital beds for a week at a time before making decisions on lifting or reinstating some restrictions.

Hogan’s administration has been looking most closely at the number of hospitalizations and the state’s testing positivity rate in deciding when to roll back restrictions.

Officials in Baltimore advised residents to continue social distancing, wearing face masks, and to stay home as much as possible.

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The city’s decisions on which restrictions to ease “is grounded in data analysis and an abundance of caution to reduce harm” to the city’s most vulnerable, Dzirasa said. The permitted activities in each phase “are considered low risk, but not no risk,” she said.

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