xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

Our View: Businesses that don’t comply with governor’s order need to be closed until they do

It seems everyone has heard reports, or seen social media posts with photos, of people not taking Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive orders on social distancing seriously. Sadly, this has included retail stores. But that should be changing.

Effective Wednesday morning, Hogan gave local health officers the authority to require businesses to make changes or even close if they are not complying with social distancing guidelines. Checks were being done Wednesday.

Advertisement

While a stay-at-home edict has been in place for the past week-and-a-half, Marylanders have been able to leave their houses for essentials, such as food. And essential stores have remained open, but were supposed to comply with guidelines in an effort to protect the “public health, welfare, and safety" and prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the state.

The Carroll County Health Department provided that guidance to retail establishments throughout the county last week, with strategies including marking floors to ensure at least 6 feet between customers, limiting the number of people at one time in the store, and establishing customer flow patterns to avoid contact between customers. Disinfecting surfaces that customers regularly touch, including shopping carts, door handles, checkout areas, and other high-touch surfaces is also imperative, the health department made clear.

Advertisement

However, many retail establishments were still not following this guidance, according to a news release from county government sent out Monday.

“I’m very glad to see an executive order come from the governor on this because I’m on a weekly conference call with he and his staff,” Commissioner Stephen Wantz told us Tuesday. “This came up last week, and I told them that I had a challenge with many of my big-box stores and grocery stores, while all of us are trying to do what we can with social distancing. When you walk in there on the weekends, it looked like vacation time because people were shopping and whatever and that’s not what we’re supposed to be doing.”

County Health Officer Ed Singer, among those tasked with policing stores going forward, told us on Tuesday, “I still see people that are gathering in some of these stores and there’s crowds, and it’s not real well controlled. It’s like some of the stores are doing a really good job but other stores haven’t done anything.”

We hope that even those stores that weren’t complying took the executive order seriously were in compliance by Wednesday morning. Based on what everyone has seen over the past few weeks, however, we have our doubts.

The governor’s order gives explicit authority to health officials to shut down businesses if they are not complying with executive orders. We are not rooting for any business to be shut down, but the truth is, that might be what it takes for some businesses to finally take this seriously while at the same time providing ample motivation for other businesses to comply to avoid winding up in the same predicament.

Carroll County citizens are encouraged to report issues with social distancing in retail establishments, by calling the COVID-19 call center at 410-876-4848, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or contacting the Health Department using the comment form at cchd.maryland.gov.

More information about how stores can comply with guidelines can be found https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html and local guidance documents are located at https://cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19-information-for-special-groups/.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement