Maryland opening state beaches, parks for some activities; schools closed for academic year

Although he stopped short of pinpointing a date, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said that the state’s data indicates they could begin discussions for reopening as soon as next week.

The governor noted that for “seven or eight days,” they’ve seen favorable data, but he wants to reevaluate it before arriving at an official reopening date.

Although many facets of the state will soon be open, officials announced that Maryland schools would be closed through the end of the academic year.

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BY THE NUMBERS: DC, Maryland and Virginia coronavirus case total latest

The governor also announced some furtive steps toward reopening, including updated state guidelines on some outdoor activities.

Effective Thursday at 7 a.m., public beaches and parks will reopen for exercise or walking.

Also, the list of safe outdoor activities will be broadened to include golf, tennis, boating, fishing, and camping.

In addition, the Maryland Department of Health will issue guidelines for elective medical procedures effective immediately - but at the discretion of local healthcare professionals and medical facilities.

Hogan also announced the University of Maryland medical school in Baltimore was conducting tests for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

The Governor unveiled his administration’s blueprint for Maryland’s “Road to Recovery” on April 23.

RELATED: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lays out 'Road to Recovery' plan

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.

RELATED: Maryland closing 'non-essential' businesses today as state grapples with coronavirus

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.