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Maryland’s Phase 1 reopening: What’s allowed, what isn’t

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on May 13 that non-essential businesses can reopen at 50 percent capacity starting May 15. (Video: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan)
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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is lifting the statewide stay-at-home order that has been in place for more than six weeks, replacing it with a “safer at home” policy that relaxes some of the restrictions.

However, most of the limits on social and business interactions will remain as coronavirus deaths and cases continue to climb. Local jurisdictions are empowered to decide whether it is safe enough to lift the stay-at-home order in their area — and several have already declared it is not.

Here are answers to some questions about the new policy, which takes effect at 5 p.m. Friday:

Why is the stay-home order being lifted?

Statewide, the number of hospitalized covid-19 patients has plateaued for 14 days. That trend suggests the spread of the virus is not growing, said Hogan (R), and social distancing efforts have been working.

Is everything reopened?

No. This is Phase 1 of a gradual reopening that is expected to take many months. The new policy allows some nonessential retailers to reopen, including clothing and shoe stores, pet groomers, animal adoption shelters, carwashes, art galleries and bookstores. But they must remain at 50 percent capacity or less, employees must wear masks, and other social distancing restrictions must be observed.

Here is a full list of the businesses that may reopen.

Manufacturers may also reopen, but Hogan said companies should consider spreading workers out over multiple shifts and ensure safety precautions are in place.

Reopening Maryland: Here’s how Hogan will decide the steps to take

Will the whole state reopen at once?

No. The policy allows localities to opt out of easing restrictions if they do not feel ready. Some jurisdictions, such as Montgomery and Prince George’s counties as well as the city of Baltimore, have already decided their areas are hit too hard by the virus to begin reopening.

Leaders of Baltimore, Frederick, Howard and Anne Arundel counties have adopted some but not all of the reopening steps.

Do I still have to wear a mask?

Yes. The order to wear masks in indoor public settings and retail stores and on public transportation remains in place. In addition, residents must remain six feet apart in public settings.

Are playgrounds open?

Hogan opened playgrounds in state parks last week, but left it up to local jurisdictions to decide whether to open other playgrounds. Most have decided to keep them closed.

Can I get a haircut?

Under the new order you can go to hair salons or barbershops by appointment only. The shops must operate at 50 percent capacity or less. These services will be available only in areas where local governments say it is safe to lift the stay-at-home order.

Can I attend worship services?

Churches and other houses of worship may hold religious services at up to 50 percent of capacity. Outdoor services are strongly encouraged. Religious organizations are the only groups exempted from the limit on gatherings of 10 people or more. Some local governments have prohibited worship services from reopening.

Are you feeling stay-at-home fatigue? Are you changing your plans because of it?

Can I hold a birthday party or wedding?

Maryland residents should still avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. The order does not lift the restriction on large gatherings, with the exception of churches and other houses of worship.

Is there anything new I can do outdoors?

The latest reopening order does not expand permitted outdoor activities, but the one Hogan issued last week permitted golfing, recreational boating, hunting, fishing, horseback riding and camping.

Are day cares open?

Even though some workers will be called back to their jobs with the partial reopening, day cares are only permitted to serve children of essential workers such as medical staff, first responders, police and government workers. Hogan said he hopes the state can expand day-care availability next week.

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