Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that he was loosening coronavirus restrictions across the state, allowing all businesses — including entertainment venues — to reopen starting Friday.
With the announcement, the Republican governor moved the state partially into the third and final phase of his “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,” a guide for relaxing restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
But as with prior reopening steps, local government officials have the authority to keep more restrictive rules in place.
Here’s what local counties are saying about the governor’s latest announcement:
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said Wednesday that the city would not be moving forward with Stage Three of the recovery plan, meaning theaters and other venues must remain closed. He will, however, loosen some restrictions, allowing restaurants to increase indoor dining capacity from 25% to 50%.
While Hogan may feel ready for more, in Baltimore, “we do not want to erase the gains we’ve made in the past month,” Young said.
While the city’s coronavirus trends are improving, it was only last month that the White House singled out Baltimore as one of the nation’s areas of concern for an outbreak.
Anne Arundel County
County Executive Steuart Pittman, a Democrat, said he won’t decide what to implement until he has had a chance to discuss the metrics and potential impacts with the county health officer and his reopening advisory group.
“It is bad timing because we have our numbers increasing right now and we need to get a better understanding of why,” Pittman said.
He said he hopes to make an announcement by Thursday evening about how Anne Arundel will proceed, noting an “obligation” to residents and theater owners specifically.
County Executive Calvin Ball, a Democrat, said Tuesday night that the county will move forward with Hogan’s modified Stage Three plan of reopening effective Friday at 5 p.m.
“Howard County has seen significant progress in reducing our positivity rate, increasing our testing capacity, and reducing hospitalizations since June,” Ball said.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said the county will align with the state and move into Stage Three of the coronavirus recovery plan announced by the governor.
Olszewski, a Democrat, said in a statement Wednesday the county is aligning with Hogan’s order to provide clarity to residents, but he added “these steps do not mean we can let our guard down.”
The five-member board of commissioners is expected to vote at its weekly meeting Thursday, president Stephen Wantz, a Republican, said.
“Our message has been clear throughout this entire pandemic,” Wantz said in an interview Tuesday night. “We have done what the governor has told us we should do.”
However, Wantz said the announcement caught him by surprise and that he felt “a little bit challenged” to already be entering Stage Three but that if the numbers indicate the state is ready to move forward that he is “happy to do so.”
County Executive Barry Glassman, a Republican, said the county would be opening as much as allowable under the governor’s order.
“We are not ready to run up the victory flag yet,” Glassman said. “I think everyone is going to be vigilant and, hopefully, we will get a COVID vaccine here in December or January.”
Baltimore Sun reporters Emily Opilo, Pamela Wood, Wilborn P. Nobles III and Talia Richman and Baltimore Sun Media reporters Mary Grace Keller, James Whitlow and Olivia Sanchez contributed to this article.