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News Release, Office of the State Fire Marshal

STATEWIDE (April 4, 2020) – Many local businesses have recently taken steps to limit the number of customers in their stores in an effort to comply with social distancing requirements.

Big box stores and your local corner stores, in many cases, have started to restrict the number of entrances into their establishments. This effort allows them to maintain an accurate count of customers entering and exiting the business, ensuring everyone’s safety and ability to social distance.

These restrictions have generated statewide concerns from citizens and patrons of the businesses to our office over fears of fire code violations.

The State Fire Prevention Code does not require a minimum number of entrances into any mercantile store. Stores are permitted to restrict entrances to a smaller number than normal.

However, it is essential that all required interior emergency exits are clear of any obstructions and available in the event of an emergency. These exits are permitted to be marked as “for use in an emergency only” with signage or employees posted at the exits. Obstructions such as carts, shelving, temporary walls, or other items would not be permitted by the State Fire Prevention Code and required to be removed immediately.

State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci encourages all mercantile operators and patrons to promote and use current guidelines on essential travel and social distancing. In the course of this public health emergency, existing fire safety protection requirements should continue to be maintained.


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...