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What’s open in Maryland? How did officials decide?

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The most sweeping wave of reopening in Maryland continues, with an array of indoor businesses and outdoor activities permitted to operate under strict social distancing conditions.

Gyms, dance and martial arts studios, casinos, arcades and malls were allowed to reopen as of June 19.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he wants to “let summer be summer,” and authorized outdoor pools to double their capacity from 25 to 50 percent as of June 12. Amusement parks, go-kart tracks, miniature golf courses and other outdoor entertainment activities may also reopen.

Restaurants could begin serving customers indoors that day, though tables must be separated by at least six feet, and public health experts warned people to carefully weigh whether dining indoors at restaurants puts you at risk.

“Just because it’s open doesn’t mean you have to participate,” said Fran Phillips, a deputy health secretary in Maryland.

Outdoor high school sports were permitted to resume practices at that time as well, and small groups of students can return to school buildings.

Hogan also has lifted the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.

Local governments are in charge of deciding how quickly to adopt Hogan’s proposals, and hard-hit areas of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City chose a somewhat slower route. But Prince George’s fully adopted Phase 2 at 5 p.m. Monday, after announcing plans to do so last week.

Here are answers to questions about what has reopened and what data officials are watching to determine what happens next.

New daily deaths per 100,000 residents

What am I able to do in Stage 2 of reopening?

A lot more than before, but nothing under pre-pandemic circumstances.

Changes announced this month also allow many offices to welcome back workers if they use social distancing, staggered shifts and other precautions, including temperature checks and minimal face-to-face interaction. Working from home remains the safest public health choice and is recommended whenever possible.

“Moving into Stage 2 does not mean this crisis is behind us,” Hogan said earlier this month. “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.”

Hair salons, nail salons, religious services, limited retail and outdoor dining are permitted, as are tattoo parlors and massage businesses. Most state services, including driver’s license offices, reopened June 8 under limited conditions. Retail shopping is allowed, though rules vary from county to county.

Local leaders could choose which of Hogan’s recommendations to adopt. In places where they’re allowed, youth day camps, youth sports and outdoor pools can reopen as long as they keep capacity limited.

Leaders of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, respectively home to the state’s largest share of deaths and confirmed cases, have not reopened as much as Hogan allows in what he has called “Stage 2″ of economic recovery at first. But Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) on Thursday announced that her county would fully implement the Phase 2 reopenings, noting positive trends in the county, including a decline in hospitalizations.

Is the state reopening all at once?


Hogan’s plan grants 180 local leaders discretion on whether individual jurisdictions and regions should keep stay-at-home orders and businesses shut down longer than his statewide directive allows.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) allowed some of the Stage 2 changes to take effect June 15. Outdoor pools can open, but only at 25 percent capacity. Restaurants can serve people indoors. Retail stores can reopen with a limited capacity. On Monday at 5 p.m., the county fully entered Phase 2.

In neighboring Montgomery, County Executive Marc Elrich (D) allowed the county to enter some of Stage 2 on June 19, permitting day cares to reopen, as well as limited indoor dining, religious services, nail salons and playgrounds.

Baltimore City has not adopted all of the reopenings allowed under Stage 2, but most counties have adopted Hogan’s plan.

What’s open? And how does Hogan pick which businesses reopen?

Hogan has a detailed “Roadmap to Recovery” that sorts business practices and social activities into low-, medium- and high-risk categories. He divided the low-risk “Stage 1” and medium-risk “Stage 2” categories into two phases, so reopenings have been rolled out in four different waves so far. The latest — the second part of the medium-risk “Stage 2” category — started June 12.

The initial wave of reopenings began May 15, allowing clothing and shoe stores, pet groomers, animal adoption shelters, carwashes, art galleries, and bookstores to relaunch their businesses. Manufacturers could open then, too. But they must remain at 50 percent capacity or less, employees must wear masks, and other social distancing restrictions must be observed. Some local governments have imposed stricter rules about capacity or barred all but curbside service.

Under Hogan’s plan, places of worship may hold indoor services, but may not fill up by more than 50 percent of the building’s capacity. Some local governments have kept a 10-person cap on indoor church gatherings.

The second wave took effect May 29, lifting more restrictions. Restaurants were allowed to resume outdoor dining, provided they keep tables six feet apart, do not seat more than six people to a table and sanitize surfaces between guests. Some places, such as Annapolis, periodically shut down city streets to expand outdoor dining options. Low-contact sports that emphasize individual skill development could restart, along with day camps for kids, but groups must be limited to 10 or fewer. At day camps, everyone must wear masks.

The third wave started June 5 and allowed a broader range of nonessential businesses to reopen, including auto dealerships, nail and tanning salons, architectural and advertising companies, banks, tattoo parlors, and law firms.

If the virus starts to spread within the community or residents ignore social distancing conventions, Hogan plans to reverse the reopening actions. “If everybody goes crazy and does things that are unsafe, we’re going to balloon back up and slow down the process,” he said. “If everybody responds responsibly, we’ll be able to move forward quicker.”

Residents can expect to wear masks and stay at least six feet apart in public for months to come.

State beaches, state parks and golf courses are open across Maryland, and fishing, boating, hunting and camping are allowed. Elective surgeries and dental appointments are also permitted, based on the discretion of medical providers.

Community beaches and those run by county officials are open only in areas where local officials deem it safe.

Hogan announces wave of reopenings, including day cares and gyms, as region lifts more restrictions

What data does Hogan consider when deciding?

Like many governors across the country, Hogan has a panel of epidemiologists and other experts advising him. His plan is based on advice from Johns Hopkins University and the National Governors Association, which he chairs, as well as guidance from the White House that trends should hold for 14 days before major changes are made.

The governor is considering a range of pandemic data, but the key things he’s watching are the number of occupied beds in intensive care units and the number of people hospitalized with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. These measurements give the most accurate picture of how the virus is moving through Maryland and whether the state has the resources to treat people who get sick.

As of Thursday, 511 people were hospitalized. Of those, 209were in intensive care, the lowest number since April 3.

Tracking coronavirus cases and deaths in Maryland, Virginia and the District

How many people are still getting sick?

Maryland’s caseload count keeps rising as expanded testing detects more coronavirus cases.

As of Thursday, 65,777 people had been confirmed positive, an increase of 30,965 cases since May 13, when Hogan announced that the state was ready to start reopening. Maryland reported a total of 3,129 confirmed and probable covid-19 fatalities as of Thursday.

When can I go back to working in an office?

Hogan said people and employers with the ability to telework should continue doing so as long as possible. But as of June 5, many professional services will be able to reopen for employees.

Can my place of worship reopen?

It depends on where you live. Houses of worship were able to resume services when Stage 1 took effect. But they must restrict attendance to half their legal capacity, and Hogan urged churches and other religious institutions to hold worship outdoors if possible.

What about restaurants?

Restaurants statewide can resume indoor and outdoor dining now, with social distancing and other restrictions.

Bars have not yet been permitted to reopen, though they are among the medium-risk activities that could be allowed later in Stage 2. That stage is expected to unfold in several phases and endure much, much longer than the initial reopening phase. It will last until a vaccine is widely available.

What about going to a baseball game? Or school?

Baseball games, concerts, big church gatherings and pre-pandemic restaurant service have been deemed high-risk and reserved for the last stage — Phase 3 — in Hogan’s reopening plan. Maryland State Schools Superintendent Karen B. Salmon said last month that in-person, daily school attendance also would not happen until Phase 3.

“There is no realistic timeline yet from any of the scientific experts for achieving this level, as this requires either a widely available and FDA-approved vaccine or safe and effective therapeutics that can rescue patients with significant disease,” Hogan’s plan says.

[The latest on reopening plans in the region: D.C. | Virginia]

Does Maryland have enough hospital beds?

Maryland has increased its hospital bed capacity by 6,700 beds, and there are now 9,800 hospital beds in the state, including a field hospital set up at the Baltimore Convention Center. State health officials say they have 1,600 beds available.