More Maryland businesses and amenities will be allowed to reopen, under strict guidelines, starting Friday at 5 p.m.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that outdoor dining, pools, day camps, social organizations, and youth sports can resume. Only outdoor activities in each case will be allowed.
Restaurants and social organizations may begin reopening for outdoor dining with several requirements, including social distancing customers, no more than six seated at a table, and menus that are single-use disposable or sanitized between each use.
In addition, employees must wear masks when interacting with people and must sanitize chairs and tables between each use. Employees must be screened, which includes daily temperature checks.
The Bethesda Urban Partnership has been discussing the possibility of closing streets around Bethesda Row and Woodmont Triangle to allow for more outdoor dining.
The relaxed restrictions Hogan described on Wednesday apply statewide. However, some jurisdictions that have been harder hit by coronavirus in the number of cases and deaths — including Montgomery County — have been taking a slower approach to reopening.
As of Wednesday, Montgomery County had not set a date for when it expects to start phasing in its reopening. However, a county press release issued at 9 p.m. Wednesday said Erlich and other officials will hold a press conference on Thursday afternoon “to announce plans for reopening Montgomery County.”
Hogan said outdoor pools will be allowed to have only 25% capacity and must follow social distancing and sanitation requirements. Those who visit pools will need to sign in and out. Signs will be posted asking people to not enter if they are sick.
Youth sport activities will be allowed for outdoor practices with low contact. Outdoor activities for youth day camps will be restricted to no more than 10 people in a group. Camp employees and attendees must be checked for coronavirus symptoms daily.
Drive-in movie theaters will also be allowed to open.
The reopenings will occur within stage one of Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery plan.
“If these encouraging trends continue into next week, we would then be in a position to begin entering stage two of our recovery by lifting the order and allowing other non-essential businesses to begin reopening,” Hogan said.
An earlier phase of statewide reopening went into effect on May 15.
Starting that day, retail businesses could open and manufacturing that was not considered essential could restart. Places of worships could hold services, preferably outside.
Beauty salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen by appointment only.
In all cases, limits remained on the number of people who could gather and the space that could be used.
Hogan said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the test positivity rate in Montgomery County has dropped by more than 50%, from a high of 32.64% to 15.84%.
The state reached its goal of conducting 10,000 coronavirus tests per day, as of Wednesday, and has completed 300,444 tests statewide.
Hogan said the average daily death rate has dropped by more than 50% since it peaked on April 29. Hospitalizations are down 17% in the last 14 days, he said.
Contact tracing capacity in the state has increased by nearly 500%, with more than 1,400 contact tracers. The state is able to track up to 1,000 cases and 10,000 people daily.
Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.