Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state to close all bars, restaurants and movie theaters as coronavirus spreads, he announced at a press conference Monday.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and gas stations, as well as drive-thru and food delivery services will continue to operate, he added. The order will take effect 5 p.m. Monday.
“It is impossible to know how long this threat will continue,” Hogan said. “What I do know, is that we cannot afford to wait to take action.”
Hogan also ordered the opening of closed hospital facilities in Maryland, which will immediately increase the state’s capacity by 6,000 beds, he said.
Sports activities and recreational events of more than 50 people are also prohibited and “carry the full force of the law,” he said.
Additionally, Hogan prohibited utility companies, including water, gas and television companies, from shutting off residential service or charging residential customer late fees. Tenants also cannot be evicted, he added.
“While these measures may seem extreme, if we do not take them now, it could be too late,” he said.
He also announced that the state can now provide three meals a day and a snack to students in need while schools are closed. There are 138 centers across the state operating in this capacity, he said.
“This is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone is understanding,” Hogan said.
As of Monday morning, there were at least 37 cases of coronavirus reported in the state; Hogan said he expects the numbers to continue to increase.
“We should continue to expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly rise,” Hogan said. “We have never faced anything like this before.”