By the Joint Information Center Team
As the Governor offers guidance on his Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery plan, each Maryland county can decide to open businesses and services at their own pace.
Here in Garrett County, the Garrett County Commissioners have decided to move into Stage One of the recovery plan as of 5 p.m. May 15, 2020. Stage One allows low-risk businesses to reopen and implements a Safer at Home public health advisory. Also, churches and houses of worship may begin to safely hold religious services, at up to 50 percent capacity, with outdoor services strongly encouraged.
As a part of Stage One, the Garrett County Health Officer has also rescinded the March 2020 order prohibiting the rental of transient vacation rentals. Therefore, all transient rentals in Garrett County will be reopened at that time.
Transient rentals include properties rented by local management companies, services such as Air BnB, and private vacation rental homeowners.
Like other small businesses that are able to reopen, the rentals must follow strict cleanliness processes and implement as many “no-touch” processes as possible.
Specifically, the reopening of vacation rental units outlines the following:
Each unit must be cleaned with approved disinfecting cleaners. Special attention must be paid to the high touch and high traffic areas. Also, each unit must be cleaned to the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) housekeeping standards and protocol. Owners must allow increased time between check out and the next guest’s arrival for the cleaning practices.
Employees must be sufficiently trained on the enhanced cleaning protocol and use personal protective equipment.
Guests are asked to bring groceries, paper products, and cleaning supplies with them for the duration of their stay. Also, guests must practice social distancing, use face coverings when in public, and regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizer when hand washing is not available. Guests are also advised to stay home if not feeling well. If symptoms present when staying at a vacation rental, please self-isolate and make the Garrett County Health Department aware of the situation.
Groups are limited to no more than 10 and must utilize a remote check-in process.
Note that factors such as a sustained increase in hospital intensive care utilization and/or a community outbreak will determine if the reopening will be continued.
“We are moving from what I would call government-imposed restriction to personal responsibility,” said Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens. “It is all of our responsibility now to protect our neighbors, our family, and our friends through things like social distancing, washing our hands, wearing face masks, and limiting our travel within the community.”
Other low-risk activities that can reopen under the Governor’s new Order include:
- Animal adoption shelters
- Art galleries
- Car washes
- Clothing and shoe stores
- Furniture stores
- Lawn and garden stores
Please remember all other restrictions imposed by the Governor’s Executive Orders also remain in place:
- Restaurants are carry-out or delivery only and bars remain closed
- Face coverings are required to be worn in all retail or service businesses
- Social distancing is required; keep 6 feet between people
- Large gatherings are prohibited; no groups larger than 10
"We are in unprecedented times but have done our homework in consulting with the public health experts. Now, we each have a personal responsibility to ensure a safe and prudent way forward,” said Board of Garrett County Commissioners Chairman Paul Edwards.
Garrett County Government buildings and facilities will remain closed to the public but county services are available via phone and email. If an in-person meeting is necessary, an appointment can be scheduled.
Information and updates about COVID-19 in Garrett County and around the world are
available at garretthealth.org. Residents who have medical questions about the virus may
also call the Health Department COVID-19 Hotline at 301-334-7698.
The Board of Garrett County Commissioners Executive Order - Declaration of State of Emergency - Amended May 14, 2020 can be found here: https://bit.ly/Amended-5-14