Prince George’s County announces new COVID-19 guidelines, requires masks outdoors

With COVID-19 cases once again trending upward, Prince George’s County is instituting new guidelines to halt a second spread of the deadly virus.

Prince George’s County has been the epicenter of the pandemic in Maryland, although its metrics had consistently tilted downward after early summer.

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According to health officials, their newest metrics demonstrate a dangerous uptick – with some rates popping up for the first time since the late spring or early summer. They say the county is now registering a positivity rate of 6.4% for the first time since July.

In addition, the county’s cases nearly doubled. And, last week, it saw a 20 percent jump in new cases for the first time since May.

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The new guidelines will go into effect Sunday at 5 p.m., and they include:

- Large gatherings will be heavily restricted to 1 person or family per 200 square feet; or to 25 people total outdoors and 10 people indoors

- Masks must be worn in public spaces, including outdoors, at all times 

- Gyms will remain open, with heavy restrictions including a limit to no more than 1 person per 200 square feet, or 25% capacity

- Bowling alleys will remain open at a maximum of 25% capacity or no more than 50 people, whichever is lower

- Restaurants will be limited to 25 percent capacity indoors and 50% outdoors 

- Grocery stores and others large stores must operate within certain guidelines and at a maximum cap of 50%

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said she’s also very concerned about hotels – in particular parties being held at hotels.

READ MORE: Prince George's County Police have responded to nearly 20 large teen parties at National Harbor since June

The goal – county officials say – is to reduce the infection rate to below 0.9%. Currently, the county is at 1.15% infection rate.

They also want to halve the number of cases per 1,000 residents.

Currently, their rate is at 20 people per 1,000. Ideally, that number would be 10 or fewer.

Prince George’s County is not alone. The United States has set multiple new records for cases in recent days.