Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced the further lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions as the state reopens, allowing jurisdictions to expand more services, including outdoor dining, beginning 5 p.m. Friday.
In addition to outdoor dining, youth sports and camps, pools and drive-in movies are also able to reopen.
The Republican governor’s latest move comes less than two weeks after he ordered the state to enter “Phase One” in the state’s coronavirus plan. If data continues to trend in a positive direction, the state could enter the next phase as soon as next week.
“The fight against this virus is by no means over. We must all continue to remain vigilant, particularly as we begin to come into contact with more people," Hogan said at the news conference. “Lower risk does not mean no risk, and safer does not mean completely safe."
Here’s what you need to know:
Every jurisdiction has the ability to work at its own pace
Just because Hogan announced these new measures doesn’t mean each county will implement them. Under his executive order, jurisdictions have the ability to pick and choose. Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County officials all said they are evaluating what potential measures to take. But in Harford County, Republican County Executive Barry Glassman said he would move “safely and quickly” to adopt the changes. And Carroll County plans to permit outdoor dining at 5 p.m. Friday. “It is vitally important to have these important businesses up and running as quickly as possible,” Stephen A. Wantz, president of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners and a Republican, wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun.
Will restaurants be able to open back up normally?
No. Establishments will only be able to open for outdoor dining if patrons practice social distancing by sitting 6 feet away from one another (aside from family members). Thorough sanitation practices will need to be implemented, Hogan said, and staff must wear masks and gloves. Workers also must be screened at the beginning of each shift.
The governor also encouraged local jurisdictions to close streets to cars to allow restaurants to use those spaces for tables.
What else can reopen?
Outdoor pools can reopen at 25% capacity with strict sanitation measures, and drive-in movie theaters can also resume. Youth sports may also resume for “low-contact” practices outdoors in limited groups.
So my child can attend day camp. How does that work?
Groups of kids will be limited to no more than 10, Hogan said, and masks will be required. Daily COVID-19 symptom checks will also be mandated, and all activities will be outdoors.
Does this mean the state has entered ‘Stage Two’ of reopening?
No. If the phased-in reopening continues smoothly, Hogan said, the state could then move into the next phase, which would reopen all nonessential businesses.
So can I go back to work?
Hogan is still advising people to work from home if they can. It’s ultimately up to your employer.
What do public health experts say?
The governor said his coronavirus task force members, composed of several public health experts, helped craft the latest measures. However, one of his advisers, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said last week that he endorsed some of Hogan’s reopening plans, but not others ― advising against reopening indoor religious services and barbershops and hair salons.
Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood, Luke Broadwater and Daniel Oyefusi contributed to this article.