Maryland’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic has progressed to a point at which the state will be able to enter the final stage of its recovery plan on Friday evening at 5 p.m., Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.
“Today I am pleased to announce that we are able to enter Stage 3 of our Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery. Effective this Friday, September 4th, at 5 p.m., all Maryland businesses will be able to open,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.
Hogan added: “Movie theaters and live entertainment venues will be able to begin safely opening at 50 percent capacity or up to 100 people at indoor venues-or 250 people at outdoor venues — both with appropriate health and safety guidelines in place. In addition, all retail stores, as well as churches and houses of worship — will be able to increase capacity from 50 percent t0 75 percent.”
Hogan noted that local jurisdictions are free to implement more restrictive measures than the state requires and that they have leeway regarding when to enter the final phase of the recovery plan-just as was permitted during the first two stages of the plan.
Hogan urged Marylanders to remain vigilant in the fight against the virus.
“I wanted to remind the people of Maryland that moving into Stage 3 does not mean that this crisis is behind us and remind them that we must remain vigilant so that we can keep Maryland open for business.”
Hogan cautioned Marylanders to stay safe during the upcoming holiday weekend-Labor Day is on Monday, Sept. 7. The governor relayed data from the state’s contact tracing operation system that showed that people who attended family gatherings and house parties were most at risk of contracting the virus.
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) state chair Mike O’Halloran applauded Hogan’s decision to enter Stage 3 but noted that many small businesses are still in danger of closing.
“This is certainly a step in the right direction for Maryland’s economy. Small businesses have borne the brunt of this economic crisis,” O’Halloran said in a statement. “A recent survey by NFIB’s Research Center showed that one-in-five small business owners reported they will have to close their doors if current economic conditions do not improve over the next six months so another step in our state’s economic recovery is welcome news for these business owners.”
O’Halloran added: “As movie theaters and live performance venues join other small businesses in reopening, and retailers increase their capacity, employers will turn their attention towards local leaders, hoping they will follow the standard set by the governor. The governor’s prior executive order giving control to local officials continues to muddy the waters on what business can and cannot do.”
The Department of Health reported 108,863 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning, and 3,617 people in Maryland have died from the virus. Maryland has tested more than 1.95 million people for COVID-19. The state’s positivity rate is at 3.39%, which is better than that of most states in the country.