At a State House news conference on Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan relaxed more coronavirus restrictions across Maryland.
The Republican governor announced that all businesses — including entertainment venues — can reopen starting Friday, though local government officials have the authority to keep more restrictive rules in place.
“While it is absolutely critical to remain vigilant as we battle this deadly virus, it is also important that we continue to fight to protect and improve our economy and the health of our small business community and our struggling Maryland families by continuing to push to safely to reopen our economy and to get more people safely back to work,” Hogan said.
Here’s what you need to know about the third phase of reopening:
All businesses that were not previously reopened may now do so.
That includes movie theaters and live entertainment. The establishments can reopen at 50% capacity, or up to 100 people at indoor venues and 250 at outdoor venues.
“All the states around us have done this already,” Hogan said of reopening movie theaters.
Places of worship can also increase capacity from 50 to 75%.
Most other businesses, such as restaurants, casinos and malls, were already allowed to reopen in previous orders.
What guidelines should theaters follow as they reopen?
Performance centers and theaters will be required to follow a lengthy list of requirements laid out by the state in the latest executive order, including mandatory face masks inside, employee training and additional signage.
The establishments should use advance registration and payment as well as stagger performances and movie times to help reduce touch points between guests and maintain social distancing, the executive order says.
It is also recommended that intermissions be eliminated for performances to reduce crowding. However, if they are necessary, the state suggested they be lengthened to help avoid bottlenecking.
Businesses should also maintain admission records for at least two weeks in case contact tracing is required, the state said.
Will this take effect across the state?
Local leaders have the discretion to implement the new steps as they see fit, which follows prior reopening steps.
Leaders in Baltimore City and several surrounding counties said Tuesday that they will need more time to weigh their options. After earlier announcements, local leaders typically took a few days to make their decisions.
Does that mean everything’s back to normal?
No, many restrictions are still in place.
For example, bars and restaurants still must mandate mask usage and limit indoor dining to 50% capacity. Senior centers also remain closed entirely.
Do I still have to wear a mask?
Most places, yes.
Under a previous executive order, face coverings are required for anyone older than 5 when indoors.
When outdoors, face coverings are required if there is limited ability to distance socially from anyone outside your household.
Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood and Emily Opilo contributed to this article.