ANNAPOLIS, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is expected to announce relaxed restrictions as the state begins to climb out of the COVID-19 crisis, but counties in the D.C. and Baltimore area will take a slower path.
Hogan had a call with county executives Tuesday. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said Hogan told them there would be some easing of restrictions, but counties could decide how to proceed, a move that parallels Virginia, where suburban D.C. counties have been exempted from the state’s reopening.
“We’re not under orders to do something. It’s his guidance-this will be as far as you can go, and if you think that you shouldn’t do that where you are, then don’t do it,” said Elrich. “You don’t need a waiver, you don’t need to say, ‘I’m going to defy the governor’s orders.’ You don’t need to do any of that, you can just simply say the county is not ready to open.”
Elrich said counties in the D.C. and Baltimore regions have been trying to work together as a group to stay on the same page with reopening.
Hogan is expected to announce new plans at a press conference Wednesday at 5 p.m. Elrich said Hogan did not give county executives any specifics.
“I think he’s going to be very cautious,” said Elrich. “He’s been very cautious so far. His language is that of someone being very cautious. He grasps the magnitude of this.”
According to the governor’s Roadmap to Recovery, restrictions could be lifted on some small businesses, hair and nail salons, outdoor church services and outdoor fitness classes.
Last week, the governor announced that some restrictions on state parks and beaches would be lifted, and physicians and health facilities would be given license to resume elective procedures.
Hogan has maintained that the state would follow White House guidelines regarding setting a date for reopening: two weeks of declining COVID-19 cases, and having an infrastructure in place to handle a hospital surge should the virus rebound.
The Governor said the state must have made progress on four key elements to be able to consider a plan for recovery, including expanded testing capacity, increased hospital surge capacity, ramping up the supply of PPE, and robust contact tracing.
Officials from the District, Maryland and Virginia say they have been working in concert to control the virus.
Hogan ordered all “non-essential businesses” closed on March 23.
The closures included restaurants – except for take-out and delivery, bars, hair salons and barbershops, casinos, racetracks, simulcast betting facilities, enclosed malls, “certain recreational establishments, and “certain recreational establishments and certain retail businesses."
Essential businesses – such as medical facilities, construction companies, or emergency services – were permitted to remain open.