Citing continued improvements in key metrics and a stockpile of testing supplies, Gov. Larry Hogan said Maryland is ready to move into the second phase of reopening.
Nonessential businesses will be able to reopen, though employers will be encouraged to implement health checks for employees and reconfigure schedules and layouts to keep employees further apart.
“While we’re excited to get much of our economy restarted, I want to be very clear. Just because Marylanders can return to the office doesn’t mean that they should, and Marylanders who can telework should continue teleworking whenever possible,” Hogan said. “No worker wants to give this virus to his or her coworkers and no employer wants an outbreak at his or her workplace.”
Nail salons and tanning salons will be allowed to reopen but at half capacity and only by appointment. Customer-facing agencies like the Motor Vehicle Administration will reopen branches to appointments. Maryland Transit Administration service will start working its way back to a normal schedule.
Hogan said local leaders will continue to have discretion on what to open and how fast.
Maryland’s positivity rate is at 9.5% of coronavirus tests conducted, with hospitalizations their lowest in 50 days.
By the end of the week, the state will have conducted 400,000 coronavirus tests. Since receiving South Korean testing kits good for 500,000 tests, Hogan said officials have worked to procure or manufacture other supplies, including swabs and viral transport media.
A University of Maryland, Baltimore lab has been converted into a clinical testing lab that uses Korean equipment and robotics. That lab is ready well ahead of schedule, Hogan said.
This lab will be the backbone of our sustained long-term testing strategy,” Hogan said.
Hogan said continued efforts to access federal labs have been unsuccessful. However, he said the Baltimore lab and stockpile of testing supplies make the state “uniquely positioned” for whatever lies ahead.
Hogan said the 10-person limit on gatherings “technically” remains in place but, pointing to the protests that have taken place in Baltimore, Towson, Columbia and Annapolis since the death of George Floyd, said most people aren’t really following that guidance. However, he suggested that anybody who was out at a protest should look into getting tested and avoid at-risk friends and family until they know they don’t have the Coronavirus.