ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND – As states across the nation ease restrictions related to COVID-19, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has introduced a multi-stage strategy to gradually lift physical distancing orders here.
Hogan’s “Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery” is divided into three stages — low, medium and high risk. Each stage will slowly ease lockdown orders for specific activities and businesses based on their likelihood of allowing infection to spread.
Stage One: Low-risk
The low-risk phase will allow certain businesses to re-open and lift restrictions on some community activities, religious gatherings, and stay-at-home orders. Businesses and activities that would re-open or resume include:
– Medical offices
– Stores with curbside pick-up and drop-off services
– Car washes
– Certain small businesses and outdoor establishments
– Outdoor sports, gym classes and recreational activities (such as fishing, hiking and hunting) with proper distancing
Stage Two: Medium-risk
The second stage, the medium-risk phase, will likely take longer to get to than the initial recovery phase. During this stage, the majority of the state’s businesses could re-open, but with strict physical distancing and masking requirements. Potential changes may include:
– Capacity restrictions lifted and social gathering limits raised
– Access to indoor gyms, childcare centers, restaurants and bars with low-capacity limits
– Transit services return to normal schedules
– Churches re-open their doors
– Hospitals resume nonessential procedures
Stage Three: High-risk
The high-risk phase is the final stage of Hogan’s plan and focuses on long-term goals. This third phase would only begin once a vaccine or medication is discovered that would protect individuals from the spread of the novel coronavirus. Marylanders would see:
– The resumption of large social gatherings at restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, and churches
– Fewer restrictions at nursing homes
The terms of this roadmap are flexible and subject to change based on conditions of the state, Hogan said Friday.
Too soon to begin recovery
The three-phase plan to reopen will not go into effect right away because Maryland is still seeing increases in reported COVID-19 cases and deaths statewide. Hogan said the process will only begin when the daily number of new cases decreases for 14 consecutive days.
“Even as we begin our recovery, we won’t be able to just flip a switch,” Hogan said. “Unfortunately life is not going to just immediately go back to normal.”