ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Gov. Larry Hogan will lift Maryland's stay at home order on Friday at 5 p.m., more than 45 days after he initially announced the order.
Hogan said Maryland has achieved the 14-day plateauing and decline of hospitalizations. The rate of new deaths, hospitalizations and ICU patients have steadily declined, he said during a press conference Wednesday.
"A lot of it depends on how everyone treats this first phase. If everyone goes crazy and does things that are unsafe, we're going to balloon up and slow down the process," Hogan said.
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"The fight against this deadly disease is far from over, but because of the incredible courage you have shown and the extraordinary sacrifices you have made, Maryland and our nation can now at least begin to slowly recover," Gov. Hogan added.
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Although the stay at home order is lifted, the state will be moving instead to a Safer-at-Home public health advisory. Hogan encouraged residents to practice social distancing and to continuing to wear masks when inside stores and or on public transportation.
Along the with order being lifted, Hogan announced he would move most of the state into stage one of the recovery plan. Here's what will reopen at 5 p.m. Friday:
- Retail stores in Maryland will reopen with 50% capacity; manufacturing may resume operations, personal services like barbershops and hair salons may reopen at up to 50% capacity and by appointment only.
- Pet groomers, animal adoption shelters, car washes, and art galleries can also reopen.
- Churches and houses of worship may begin to safely hold religious services. Outside services are strongly encouraged, but inside services may be permitted at 50% capacity or less with appropriate safety protocols.
Bars and restaurants remain closed other than to delivery and carryout services.
However, Hogan said that he was aware that some parts of the state where there are more cases of coronavirus may not be comfortable with moving to phase one of the recovery plan.
"Prince George's and Montgomery counties have the highest number of cases, and they have made it clear that they are not yet ready to move into stage one," Hogan said.
"I want to be very clear: while lifting the stay at home order and gradually moving into stage one of our recovery is a positive step forward, it does not mean that we are safe, or that this crisis is over. Low risk, does not mean no risk," Hogan said. "All Marylanders, particularly those older and more vulnerable populations are wise to continue staying home as much as possible. Employers should continue to encourage telework for their employees whenever possible."
Businesses are being encouraged to take the 'Maryland Strong: Back to Business Pledge' to assure customers that they are adhering to best practices and strict safety guidelines.
Christine Ross, president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, issued the following statement:
We are grateful that the day has come to begin moving into the first phase of economic recovery. We thank the governor for his leadership and for safeguarding public health and safety throughout the pandemic. Like him, we want to see Marylanders get back to work as safely and as soon as possible.We are concerned, however, about the emerging "different rules for different jurisdictions" method to reopening and what it will mean for employers who run businesses in multiple parts of the state. This patchwork approach could prove detrimental for employers and their employees, who are already in the midst of navigating a difficult and evolving crisis situation.As we continue to steadfastly advocate for our members, who are anxious to return to work, we continue to urge the governor to actively communicate and engage with members of the business community throughout each stage of the recovery process.
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