By: David M. Higgins II, Publisher/ Staff Writer

UPDATE 3/16/2020 2:00 p.m.-From the Governor’s Press Release:

Social Distancing

CLOSURE OF BARS, RESTAURANTS, FITNESS CENTERS, AND THEATERS:Governor Hogan has issued an amended executive order to close all bars and restaurants in the state, as well as fitness centers, spas, and theaters, effective at 5:00 p.m. today.Read the emergency order.

  • The order allows for restaurants to continue carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery services and allows for eateries in health care facilities to remain open.

PROHIBITION ON GATHERINGS OF MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE:Effective immediately, gatherings of more than 50 people, including social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings, are prohibited at all locations and venues.Read the emergency order.

  • Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after the termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded.

Public Health Surge

“At my direction, we are marshaling every tool in the arsenal of public health to combat this crisis and slow the spread of this pandemic,” said Governor Hogan. “It is impossible to know how long this threat will continue. What I do know is that we cannot afford to wait to take action. While these measures may seem extreme, if we don’t take them now, it could be too late.”

Governor Hogan has issued anomnibus health care orderthat puts into place the following:

STANDING UP AN ADDITIONAL 6,000 BEDS:Governor Hogan has directed the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to work with providers to reopen closed hospital facilities across the state and take other measures necessary to immediately increase our capacity by an additional 6,000 beds.

ACTIVATION OF MARYLAND RESPONDS MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS:At the governor’s direction, the Secretary of Health has activated the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps, a trained and dedicated force of 5,000 volunteers from across the state.

RESOURCE CONTROL:The Secretary of Health is ordered to establish and implement appropriate policies and procedures for receiving, stockpiling, rationing, and distributing all assets received by the State of Maryland from the Strategic National Stockpile and all assets needed for COVID-19 testing.

INTERSTATE RECIPROCITY FOR HEALTH CARE LICENSES:Under the order, any person who holds a valid, unexpired license as a health care practitioner that is issued by another state may, at a health care facility in Maryland, engage in the activities authorized under that license.

INACTIVE PRACTITIONERS:Any inactive practitioner may, at a health care facility in Maryland, engage in activities that would have been authorized under his/her inactive license without first reinstating his/her inactive license.

ELECTIVE MEDICAL PROCEDURES:The Secretary of Health is authorized and ordered to take actions to control, restrict, and regulate the use of health care facilities for the performance of elective medical procedures, as necessary to respond to the catastrophic health emergency.

Relief for Residents and Families

PROHIBITION ON UTILITY SHUTOFFS:Governor Hogan has issued an emergency order that prohibits electric, gas, water, sewage, phone, cable TV, and internet service provider companies from shutting off any residential customer’s service, or charging any residential late fees.Read the governor’s emergency order.

PROHIBITION ON EVICTIONS:Governor Hogan has issued an emergency order that prohibits Maryland courts from ordering the eviction of any tenant who can show that their failure to pay rent was the result of COVID-19—for example, because of lost or reduced unemployment, or needing to care for a school-aged child—or because they are diagnosed with, or under investigation for, COVID-19.Read the governor’s emergency order.

EXPANSION OF AVAILABLE SCHOOL MEALS:State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) applied for a federal waiver and beginning today, has the capability to provide three meals a day, and a snack, to students impacted by the statewide closure of schools. MSDE has 138 meal distribution centers across the state, which can be found

Activation of Additional Personnel

NATIONAL GUARD:Afterissuing an executive orderlast week directing the National Guard to move to a higher state of readiness, the governor announced the activation of two Area Support Medical Companies in order to carry out any necessary emergency functions and critical areas of need in the coming weeks. At the direction of Major General Timothy Gowen, as of Monday, 1,000 Maryland National Guard soldiers and airmen are fully activated and another 1,200 guardsmen are currently in a state of enhanced readiness.

MOBILE FIELD FORCE:At the direction of Colonel Jerry Jones, the Maryland State Police has activated its Mobile Field Force, which is composed of 250 Maryland State Troopers who are ready to be deployed across the state.

Resources for Businesses.The Maryland Departments of Commerce and Labor havecompiled resourcesto help businesses whose daily operations are affected during the state of emergency. Members of the business community are encouraged to reach out with their questions by sending a message

Annapolis, MD- At an 11 am Press Conference, Governor Larry Hogan announced that as of 5 pm today(March 16, 2020), all Maryland Bars, and Restaurants will no longer be allowed to serve patrons within their doors; only Drive-thru, delivery, and carry-out options. Movie theaters and gyms will also be closed to the public.

Grocery Stores and food delivery services to still operate. Banks, gas stations, pharmacies will also remain open.

The Governor also announced that the Executive Order prohibiting gatherings of 250 people or more, has now been reduced to 50 people or more.

The Governor also signed an Executive order prohibiting Utility companies from shutting off the water, sewer, gas, electric, phone and internet service during the State of Emergency for non or late payment. Landlords are also prohibited from commencing eviction proceedings.

The Governor is also looking to re-open closed hospitals to help accommodate an influx of possible future cases of COVID-19 patients. Hogan said he is authorizing doctors from out of state, who may not be licensed in Maryland, to practice in the state during the outbreak.

Hogan also announced that the National Guard Medical Reserve Core has been activated with 6,000 personnel. Along with 1,000 National Guard that are already activated. Twelve hundred(1200) Guardsmen and women have been put on high readiness alert.

Hogan said there is no timetable on how long the orders will last. He said local and state police will strictly enforce the orders.

This is a developing story and we will continually update it as we find more detailed information on it.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...