Gov. Larry Hogan wants Marylanders to stay at home for the holidays to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and on Thursday he issued an order that prohibits non-essential travel.

“Today I am issuing an emergency order which requires limiting travel to essential purposes only. Marylanders who do travel outside of Maryland or individuals who do travel to our state will be required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result or to self-quarantine for ten days,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.

Transportation Secretary Greg Slater joined in Hogan in asking Marylanders to avoid non-essential travel during the holiday season.

“As COVID-19 is picking up we join Governor Hogan in asking all Marylanders to stay home for the holidays. If you don’t have to travel, please don’t. This holiday season please give the gift of health by avoiding non-essential travel to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect you and your families. Simply put, don’t travel unless necessary.”

At Thursday’s news conference Hogan announced a temporary period of mandatory telework for all state employees that are able to so and he encouraged the state’s businesses to limit in-person interactions as much as possible.

Hogan also announced that the state will provide an additional $180 million in aid to help both small businesses and families in need of assistance.

The investments include:

  • $50 million for the hospitality industry
  • $30 million for restaurants
  • $15 million for entertainment venues
  • $5 million for “socially or economically disadvantaged” businesses, namely those located in rural areas
  • $40 million for the state’s Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) program
  • -$40 million for the state’s “developmental disability care providers

Hogan said that next month when the General Assembly reconvenes he will urge lawmakers to approve a more expansive economic relief package.

“With the actions we are taking today we are providing a total of more than $600 million in emergency economic relief for the state. When the legislature returns to work next month for the 2021 session we will be proposing a much larger economic and stimulus relief package which will provide further support for our struggling families and small businesses.”

There are 241,767 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Thursday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 5,152 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 7.73%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 5.1 million COVID-19 tests.

This article originally appeared on on December 17, 2020, and is republished with permission.

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