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Gov. Hogan: State Allowing For Flexible, Community-Based Approach To Reopening

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that he will lift the state's stay-at-home order Friday, but said that he is allowing for a flexible community-based approach.

The governor said this approach allows individual county leaders to make decisions regarding the timing of stage-one reopening in their individual jurisdictions.

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"Yesterday, I led another call with the county executives and leaders of every jurisdiction in the state," Gov. Hogan said. "I assured our county leaders that as we slowly and cautiously lift restrictions at the state level, that we are providing for a flexible community-based approach."

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski issued a joint statement Wednesday. They said, in part:

"Our top priority is to protect the health and well-being of our people," the two said. "As Gov. Hogan has acknowledged, there is not a statewide, one-size fits all approach to achieving that goal, and just four jurisdictions have 72 percent of the state's COVID-19 cases."

WJZ spoke to Olszewski Wednesday afternoon. He said for Baltimore County to safely reopen, there needs to be more PPE's, expanded testing capability and robust contact tracing.

Baltimore City and Baltimore County are two of those jurisdictions, along with Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball also released a statement Wednesday. He said, in part:

"Governor Hogan has given individual counties and regions the discretion to review our own data and make decisions about when it is appropriate us to relax certain restrictions. Howard County does not meet many of the criteria that the Governor outlined in his four building blocks to reopen."

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.

Montgomery and Prince George's County said they are not at a spot to reopen their respective jurisdictions just yet.

"While Gov. Hogan has announced he is lifting the stay at home order and moving into phase one of recovery, here in Montgomery County, the science shows we are not ready to take that step," Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich tweeted Wednesday night.

Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks will hold a press conference Thursday about her jurisdiction's approach.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said he will review the governor's proposals with the local health department and announce which restrictions he will lift.

Harford County, on the other hand, said it will reopen to the fullest extend permitted by Gov. Hogan. The county made the announcement on its Facebook page Wednesday.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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