Hogan: Stage Two of recovery plan

ANNAPOLIS — Governor Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced that Maryland will begin to move into Stage Two of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’ on Friday at 5 p.m. with a safe and gradual reopening of workplaces and businesses, along with additional personal services. This comes after the state’s positivity rate dropped to single digits, and total current hospitalizations fell to their lowest level in more than seven weeks.

As with Stage One, Stage Two will be implemented with a flexible, community-based approach that empowers individual jurisdictions to make decisions regarding the timing of reopenings. All 24 of the state’s jurisdictions have now entered Stage One.

“Moving into Stage Two is an important step forward for our state after what has been a very difficult period,” said Governor Hogan. “The people of our great state have endured so many significant personal, medical, and economic challenges. But in the face of the most daunting challenge in our lifetime, the people of Maryland have been resilient, they’ve never lost hope, and they are showing what it truly means to be Maryland strong.”

To begin Stage Two, Governor Hogan announced that he will be lifting the order requiring the closure of non-essential businesses. The list of open businesses in Maryland will include manufacturing, construction, large and small retail shops, specialty vendors, wholesalers, warehouses, and offices including information technology firms, legal offices, accounting, banking and financial institutions, insurance agencies, design studios, advertising and architectural firms, and media production companies.

Additionally, real estate offices, travel agencies, auto dealer showrooms, bank branches and various other offices may all safely reopen with public health and safety guidance recommendations in place. This guidance includes:

• Wearing face coverings whenever face-to-face interaction takes place.
• Conducting temperature checks for workers and other personnel.
• Limiting the proximity of employees by rotating employee hours.
• Instituting split schedules, shifts, or shorter work weeks.
• Staggering start, break, or shift times.
• Employees who can telework should continue to do so whenever possible.

Additional personal services including nail salons, massage therapists, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors may resume operations at up to 50 percent capacity, by appointment only, and with appropriate health and safety guidelines.

Hopes of restaurant owners were dashed, however — many had been waiting to hear that they would be allowed to offer indoor dining. Outdoor and carryout facilities have been operating, and though this has brought money to the struggling eateries, it hasn’t been up the capacity of many.

A statement from the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association that was reposted by restaurants around the state said, “What a disappointment to not even acknowledge tourism or the restaurant industry. Our business community hangs on a thread weekly for the slow trickle of information, or lack thereof – salt in the wound. Visitors are going to Delaware and Virginia, tax dollars gone.”

Some local restaurants’ social media accounts on Wednesday immediately featured outraged comments from owners and customers, expressing their disappointment in the continuing restriction. Some have said they would open in defiance of the governor’s order.

These announcements were met with strong support and opposition.
“People should be able to choose their own fate,” Melissa Dial said. “Home of the free, or at least we used to be.”
Trisha Lundgren wrote, “I’m glad the restaurant I work at is run by someone with common sense and cares about not only the safety of our community, but she cares about the safety of her staff as well. Glad we won’t be participating in your ‘movement!’”

Maryland state government will also begin returning to more normal operations on June 8. The Motor Vehicle Administration and other customer-facing agencies will begin reopening select branches to customers on a limited basis by appointment only.

Staff will be required to wear face coverings and will have plexiglass dividers at each station. With more Marylanders back to work, transit will begin to return to a more normal schedule and the Maryland State Department of Education will continue with its gradual plan to reopen child care centers.

As additional industries and activities begin to resume, the Maryland Department of Commerce continues to develop and issue guidance and best practices to help businesses reopen safely. These resources are available at open.maryland.gov/backtobusiness.

State officials and the Maryland Coronavirus Recovery Team will continue to watch the data closely, and if encouraging trends continue, the next step, likely coinciding with the end of the school year, will be to consider opening additional amusement, fitness, sporting, and other summertime activities.

Visit governor.maryland.gov/recovery for more information about the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery.’

Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

Have a question about the coronavirus? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll ask the appropriate public officials.