Carroll County’s commissioners are looking for input from the local business community about questions they can ask of the governor’s legal counsel on ways they might be able to safely reopen during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Board of County Commissioners’ meeting Thursday, Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said he wanted to find a strategy for more businesses to be able to reopen while adhering to Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive orders and guidelines, suggesting that some businesses might be able to offer certain services in a safe manner.
A local Jiu-Jitsu studio could host private lessons, Rothstein said. Or, he said, perhaps a nail salon could provide pedicures rather than manicures, which require closer face-to-face interaction.
“I don’t want to pick winners and losers,” he said. “I want to look at the [governor’s] guidelines. I want to look at the strategy of what the governor is trying to provide, and then for us to take that on and start looking at which businesses we should be able to start focusing our attention on to opening up.”
Rothstein said he wants to help reopened businesses expand their services and wants to see what could be done for businesses that are not open, while following the parameters Hogan has put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, volunteered to reach out to the governor’s legal counsel to ask for interpretation of the governor’s reopening guidelines. In a conversation with the governor’s office, Wantz said, he was encouraged to ask counsel what businesses can or cannot do.
“If there’s a list of those things that you guys want to provide, we can certainly check with them and get guidance on that,” Wantz told his fellow commissioners. “I think that’s a very good way in which to do it.”
The commissioners plan to create a list from the information sent by business owners and use their state contacts to advocate for reopenings, according to a county news release issued late Thursday.
Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, said the focus should be on what businesses can do to be able to open.
“Any business that can adhere to the standards, I think, should be given consideration,” he said.
Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, suggested business owners contact the board and explain how they think they can reopen while adhering to the governor’s policies.
“I think we have to hear from the business community what they think they can do,” Frazier said.
Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, said he wanted to discuss preparing to enter the second phase of reopening and asked for the county health officer and Carroll County Chamber of Commerce to be involved in the discussion at a future board meeting, as well as to discuss where they stand now in the first phase.
When business owners contact the commissioners, they are asked to offer ideas of how they could safely reopen or expand their services if they have already reopened, according to county spokesperson Chris Winebrenner.
“Contact the commissioners if the business owners believes their business entity operates in a similar way to a business already included in the reopening Stage 1,” Winebrenner wrote in an email. “The business should describe how their business model is similar and how they can adapt their business model to meet the state’s guidelines for the safety of customers and employees. It could also apply to a business that is partially open but believes they can expand services based on other similarly approved models.”
“In essence, this email would explain that their business or services are similar to a business already reopened and advocate for their own restart.”
Those who are interested should contact the commissioners as soon as possible at email@example.com or call the county communications office at 410-386-2043 during business hours, the county release states.
“Reach out to us,” Wantz said at the meeting.