Hollywood, MD- At a May 13, 2020 press conference, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that effective May 15, 2020, at 5 p.m. EST the 47 day-old Stay at Home Order would expire, and Maryland would move to a “Safer at Home” Health Advisory. This is the beginning of the Roadmap to Recovery the Governor laid out three weeks ago. Residents would be able to move more freely, small business and personal services would be able to resume activities with some precautions still in place. We had turned a corner, we were reopening. The Governor left the door open for local justifications to decide if they wanted to stay more restrictive, but could not be less restrictive of the new order.
On May 14, The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners(CaBOCC) extended their ‘Local State of Emergency“, throwing the county… and some National news Stations in a turmoil believing Calvert was not reopening. Mart Hart, and Kelly Mcconkey, both Commissioners on the CaBOCC posted on their respective Facebook pages that the State of Emergency had nothing to do with the reopening. The County later posted on its Facebook page,” Today, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners extended the state of emergency for 30 days to continue providing emergency coordination across state and local agencies. The Calvert County Government is following state guidance on plans to reopen the county and does not control the reopening of businesses.” News stations that posted they were closing, later backtracked.
St. Mary’s County Public Information Officer ALisa Casas sent out a notice that St. Mary’s County was following the Governor’s plan of reopening with no restrictions other than what was laid out in the Amended Executive Order.
We asked about how the County Government will operate during this Phase,” County Government continues to operate under maximum teleworking and offices remain closed”, said Casas.
Although this decision did not require a vote from the St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners(SMCBOCC), Commissioner John O’Connor says,” I requested through the Health Department and Office of the County Administrator to develop a plan to reopen St Mary’s County once the guidance was received that latitude would be provided to local jurisdictions by the Governor’s Office to proceed. The commissioners had already agreed during our last meeting that we should move forward with reopening and gave guidance to staff to get the ball moving. I believe I addressed this during my commissioner’s time as well.”
O’Connor was slightly critical of what local jurisdictions were allowed and not allowed to do,”I understand the process and why the restrictions are still in place. However, I would like to see more maneuverability at the local level based on our situation vs. The entire state. As of right now we can only open as far as the Governors Office allows us,which we have.”
He continued, “The total process in place is still a long term phased-in approach. There are pros and cons with every situation, but we as local elected leaders have a pulse on our County, and I absolutely believe that should weigh in heavily in the reopening process.”
O’Connor closed by saying, “I thank the residents of the county for truly working together as a team. We would not be able to move forward as we are if it wasn’t for the due diligence and responsibility. We will continue to get back to our normal way of life. As with everything this too shall pass and we will be stronger for it.”
Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties chose to stay as restrictive as possible based on the fact that their counties accounted for a large portion of the infected, and hospitalized.
The Charles County Board of County Commissioners(ChBOCC) met Thursday afternoon to vote on how they would proceed. In a 3-2 vote(Collins, Stewart & Coates vs Bowling & Rucci), voted to not proceed with the Governor’s reopening plan, instead waiting two weeks(May 29, 2020) to begin the Phase One reopening.
“I am committed to a regional approach to reopening our economy;” stated Commissioner President Reuben B. Collins, II, Esq. “Our community’s response has been excellent so far and I want to continue that trend by asking our residents and businesses to continue following the Stay-at-Home order while preparing for the next phase of our recovery. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all residents remains my highest priority.”
We have reached out to Commissioner’s Amanda Stewart and Gilbert Bowling for comment, but have not received anything at the time of publishing.
For now, St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties are going with the Governor’s phased reopening allowing , while Charles County will continue to keep it’s residents under the “Stay at Home Order”.
A protest is scheduled at the County Administration Building in La Plata for 5 p.m est, and the Southern Maryland Chronicle will have a reporter on the scene with live coverage.
If you can read the St. mary’s County Roadmap to recovery, please click here: SMC Roadmap