At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Maryland Governor Hogan announced that starting on Friday, June 12, Maryland will begin to move into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 recovery. The opening of certain places during Phase 2 will be staggered, with some businesses being permitted to reopen starting this Friday, June 12, while other businesses will be able to reopen starting next Friday, June 19. This announcement is for Maryland as a whole; however, Governor Hogan is leaving actual reopening decisions to county officials. As such, officials in Maryland’s two hardest-hit counties, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, will be further delaying parts of Phase 2 into later next week and the following week.
Beginning at 5 pm on Friday, June 12, restaurants will be allowed to reopen indoor dining at 50% capacity. In doing this, restaurants must continue following social distancing guidelines. Tables will need to be at least six feet apart and no more than six people per table. Additionally, customers and staff will be required to wear face masks as much as possible, and tables and chairs will need to be completely sanitized between each seating. While not explicitly stated, we believe that bar seating will remain closed, as is the case in DC and Virginia.
Some restrictions on outdoor entertainment will also be lifted starting at 5 pm on Friday, June 12. Public swimming pools will be allowed to open at 50% capacity. Other activities, like miniature golf courses, amusement parks, and go-kart tracks will also be allowed to reopen, provided social distancing requirements are followed. Masks will be required, and all equipment will need to be thoroughly sanitized between uses by different people.
Once you’ve gorged yourself at your favorite restaurant for the first time in months, you will also be permitted to hit the gym! Starting next Friday, June 19, indoor gyms and fitness centers will may reopen at 50% capacity. Other fitness-related businesses permitted to reopen in this stage include gymnastics gyms, martial art studios, and dance studios. As with everything else, strict social distancing requirements are required, and any equipment that is handled by multiple people will need to be thoroughly sanitized between uses. Following in the footsteps of outdoor activities, June 19 at 5:00 pm will also see the reopening of indoor activity businesses, such as arcades, casinos, and shopping malls.
Finally, at the end of his press conference, Governor Hogan briefly addressed school situations. While he did not speak about the 2020-21 school year, Governor Hogan did state that schools would be allowed to open up summer school programs, with no more than 15 people allowed in a classroom at a time. Childcare centers will also be allowed to reopen, again, with no more than 15 people per room. High school sports will be permitted to have outdoor practices this summer. As with all of these re-openings, health guidelines must be strictly followed.
In an effort to bring some sense of normalcy to the people of Maryland, Governor Hogan left it up to the individual districts to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies, six feet apart of course, in order to send off the classes of 2020 with one last hurrah.
For full opening allowances, the citizens of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties will need to look to their county officials to see how much of a delay, if any, will occur in Phase 2 being implemented. The health and safety of Marylanders is of the upmost importance, and Governor Hogan acknowledged this when discussing how much harder these two counties have been hit than the rest of the state. If you own a business, or are just curious, and have further questions about Phase 2 requirements, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Scrofano Law PC. We have become Social Distancing Law experts and are here to help you see through the red tape. The quicker, but safer, we can return to normal the better. Stay safe, stay healthy, and don’t forget your masks Maryland!