By: David M. Higgins II, Publisher

UPDATE 5/14/2020: Charles County has voted to remain under the “Stay at Home Order” until May 29, 2020. You can read more on the update here: Two SoMD counties plan to open, while one waits

Southern Maryland- On May 14, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that after 43 days of “Stay at Home” in place, the Executive Order would be lifted on May 15, 2020, at 5 p.m. The Governor announced the Stay at Home order on March 5.

“As we begin Stage One of our recovery, I want to assure every Marylander who may feel uneasy, and anyone who is concerned that we are moving either too quickly or too slowly, that each and every decision we make is both fact-based and science-based and made only after extensive consultation with our expert Coronavirus Recovery Team,” said Governor Hogan. “We are continually monitoring this crisis, we remain focused on the clusters, outbreaks, and hotspots, and I can assure you that we remain ready to quickly and decisively respond to any changes in the facts on the ground, and that we will continue to attack this virus with every single tool at our disposal,” Hogan said at the press conference.

Multiple people on Social Media have posted the Governor’s Executive Order or the Office of Legal Counsel’s Interpretive Guides, but what do they mean in layman’s terms, for regular people? We will break it down for you, along with including the guides.

First and foremost, the Governor has rescinded the Stay at Home Order, and we are now under a “Safer at Home” Health Advisory. This basically means it is safer to spend more time at home, however, if you leave for “non-essential” reasons, you will not face any penalties. Also, people with medical disabilities or illnesses should remain at home as much as possible. The Governor also has not lifted the wearing of face masks/coverings in establishments.

Secondly, the Governor has given local jurisdictions the flexibility to reopen or maintain closure of facilities within their jurisdiction based off of their numbers related to COVID-19 and Public Health/Safety.

Lastly, Governor Hogan specifically states in his Order that gatherings must be limited to 10 persons or less. This seems to follow the way we gradually lowered gatherings, and are now going to gradually increase.

When it comes to ANY business or facility opening, they MUST adhere to local, state, and CDC guidelines. This includes:

  • Spacing of at least 6 feet, marked with tape, signage or by other appropriate means,
  • Post signage at each entrance regarding patrons use of face masks,
  • sanitize or provide customers the means to sanitize handles of carts, and baskets when avaible for use,
  • Provide staff and customers with clean restrooms stocked with soap or sanitizer, and allow staff to wash hands at least once every 30 minutes.

So when the new order takes place at 5 p.m. on May 15, 2020 what can open and what can they do?

Religious Facilities
  • Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other similar facilities of faith may open to the general public, however, must keep occupancy at or below 50% of posted Maximum Occupancy certificate(issued by the Fire Marshal)
Retail Establishments
  • All retail business, organizations, establishments facilities that principally sell goods, may open to the general public; must keep occupancy at or below 50% of posted Maximum Occupancy certificate(issued by the Fire Marshal)
  • Subject to local orders, may resume operations in a safe manner which protects the health of employees, with guidelines encouraging multiple shifts and other safety precautions.
Personal Services
  • Require staff to wear face coverings except when wearing would make it impossible to perform service,
  • provide services by appointment only
  • allowed occupancy is at 50% or less based on Occupancy Certificate issued by the Office of the State Fire Marshal
  • After providing services, must clean and disinfect are where services were performed.

Other businesses that may reopen, pursuant to State, Local and CDC Guidelines, along with local laws:

a. Animal adoption shelters
b. Art galleries
c. Bookstores
d. Carwashes
e. Clothing and shoe stores
f. Florists
g. Furniture stores
h. Jewelers
i. Lawn and garden stores
j. Pawnshops
k. Pet groomers
l. Sporting goods stores
m. Tobacco and vape shops

Outdoor Recreation( effective May 7, 2020 at 7 a.m.)
  • Golf Courses and Driving Ranges,
  • Outdoor Archery, and Shooting Ranges,
  • Marinas, and Watercraft Rental Businesses,
  • Campgrounds and
  • Horse Boarding and Riding facilities

The amended order by the Governor and the beginning of Stage One of the “Road Map to Recovery” still allows for Restaurants and Bars to provide online ordering and pick-up, standard pick-up, and delivery services. Fitness Centers(Gyms, Health Clubs, Health Spas, Aquatic Centers, and Self-Defense Schools) will remain closed at this time also. Movie Theaters, Malls, Bingo Halls, Bowling Alleys, Pool Halls, Amusement Parks, Roller/Ice Skating Rinks, Minature Golf Establishments, Social and Fraternal Clubs(including without limitation, American Legion posts, VFW posts, and Elks Clubs), and all recreational clubs including private clubs will remain closed.

Over the next few days, local jurisdictions will be publishing their own guidelines within the Governor’s Stage One Order and we will make sure to bring those to you and update this article.

Below are the copies of the Amended Executive Order, and Office of Legal Counsel’s Interpretive Guide. Over the next week, the Governor may add more to this list, so be on the lookout. It is not known at this time what measurement the State is looking for to begin Stage 2. All that is known is that the Governor will continue to look at the numbers used so far; ICU and Acute beds, Hospitalizations, and new deaths.

Amended Business Closing Order

If you cannot read the Amended Stay at Home Order and Prohibition of Large Gatherings, please click here: Amended Order

Office of Legal Counsel Interpretive Guide

If you can not read the OLC Interpretive Guide, click here: OLC Guide

This is a continually developing story and the Southern Maryland Chronicle will be there to bring you the latest.

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...