By Garrett County Joint Information Center Team
“The Governor’s plan isn’t designed to open everything at once,” said Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens. “The recovery plan is a series of three stages, first allowing “Low Risk” activities to begin and moving into “High Risk” activities as benchmarks are achieved. This safe, effective, and gradual approach to reopening the state is the only way we can reopen while still combating the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The governor noted that Four Building Blocks need to be firmly in place before the state can consider lifting restrictions. Those include expanding testing capability, increasing hospital surge capacity, acquiring more personal protective equipment, and a robust contact tracing operation.
Maryland is expected to continue to see an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, since the state is increasing the number of tests being completed. Because of this, the main gauge officials will use to determine when the first phase of recovery can begin is the statewide rate of hospitalizations and the number of patients admitted to ICU.
“I want to stress that each of these recovery stages will need to be instituted in a safe, gradual and effective manner," Governor Hogan said. "If we try to rush this and if we don’t do it in a thoughtful and responsible way, it could cause a rebound of the virus which could deepen the economic crisis, prolong the fiscal problems and slow the economic recovery.”
Stage One: Low-Risk activities would begin and the stay-at-home order would be lifted. It would enable some small shops and certain small businesses to open. Elective medical and dental procedures at ambulatory, outpatient and medical offices would be allowed, as would limited attendance at outdoor religious gatherings. Recreational boating, fishing, golf, hiking and hunting also would be permitted.
“As we begin to reopen, it will continue to be important for Marylanders, particularly older and more vulnerable Marylanders, to continue to stay home as much as they can,” said Governor Hogan. “All Marylanders should
continue to avoid crowds and gatherings, and they should continue to practice physical distancing and to take precautions to protect themselves, their families, and their fellow Marylanders.”
Stage Two: Medium-Risk activities would begin, enabling a large number of businesses and activities to come back online. Businesses that reopen during this period would need to comply with strict physical distancing and appropriate masking requirements. The stage includes numerous steps over many weeks toward recovery. It would include raising the cap on social gatherings and allowing indoor religious gatherings. Restaurants and bars could open with restrictions.
Stage Three: High-Risk activities would begin. However, the Governor’s plan notes that there is no realistic timeline yet for achieving this level. It would allow larger social gatherings and reopening high-capacity bars and restaurants, as well as loosening restrictions on visits to nursing homes and hospitals. It would also include reopening entertainment venues and allowing larger religious gatherings.
Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery lays out a plan to gradually and responsibly reopen Maryland’s economy while protecting the public’s health.