Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel) said it is time to allow all businesses in the state that are still closed due to restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus to reopen provided they follow recommended safety guidelines.
At a news conference on Wednesday Gov. Larry Hogan said that effective Friday at 5 p.m. the order he gave in March requiring the closure of all non-essential businesses will be lifted. The move will mark the state’s entry into Stage 2 of the recovery process. It will allow the reopening of small businesses such as law offices, technology firms, travel agencies, and specialty vendors. Personals services such as nail salons and tanning salons will also be allowed to reopen provided service is by appointment only and strict safety protocols are followed. Movie theaters, malls, and gyms will remain closed.
“We should be reopening completely. I don’t see any point in keeping anybody closed now as long as they can follow certain CDC guidelines if they wish,” Chisholm told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Thursday.
Chisholm relayed that he is the owner of a gym. He said it does not make sense to keep gyms closed when other businesses have been given permission to reopen.
“We see tattoo parlors open, massage parlors open, and, in order to really fight this virus, you need to be healthy. And to be healthy you have to be both physically and mentally healthy…I don’t understand why some businesses are still closed and everybody else is open. So I think we should be reopened completely.”
However, Chisholm did say he is glad that Hogan has begun the reopening process.
“It’s a very positive step in the right direction.”
Frederick County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Weldon echoed similar sentiments.
“We appreciate the thoughtful, safe and deliberate steps being taken to reopen Maryland and Frederick’s economy, but given it’s been safe to stand in long lines at Home Depot and Walmart for the last two months, it’s probably time to authorize fitness centers, entertainment, and recreational venues to safely reopen as well.”
Weldon said the county’s chamber established a task force a few weeks ago to help create plans for businesses to safely reopen.
“We now have hundreds of businesses, representing all sectors of the Frederick economy, that have developed and implemented safe opening plans. These plans address cleanliness, distancing, PPE, health checks as well as HR issues and things like outdoor dining for restaurants.”
Maryland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Christine Ross applauded the decision to move to the second stage of the recovery process but noted that significant challenges lie ahead.
“The Governor’s announcement that he will lift additional restrictions this week as Maryland progresses into Phase 2 of economic recovery is very welcome news to the business community. Our members have been anxious to get back to work and have been preparing over the last several weeks to do so as safely and expeditiously as possible.
“However, we continue to be challenged by a number of things including the patchwork of approaches being taken by local jurisdictions. We will continue to advocate on behalf of our members for early, clear and consistent guidance as it relates to each phase and stage of reopening, and hope that the state and local jurisdictions will work together to that end. As well, access to childcare continues to be a challenge as employers prepare to bring back their workforce. If we do not take action to support childcare providers and the families needing them, we risk losing slots permanently which has significant implications for our workforce, productivity and economic recovery.”
Maryland Retailers Association President Cailey Locklair Tolle said her organization has concerns about some of the state’s COVID restrictions.
“Although we are thrilled for the members that have been able to open, our association believes there should be a level playing field that can be met while adhering to CDC guidelines.
“We also think some of the orders contradict themselves or are problematic. Gatherings of ten but only 6 people to a table? In looking at CDC recommendations, why was 10 People left in place in phase two? The CDC recommendation is 50. Many members are also wondering about masks when the majority of the country is not under such a mandate.”
All 24 of Maryland’s jurisdictions have started Stage 1 of the recovery process. As of Friday they will have the option to begin Stage 2 but are not required to do so.