Hogan orders all nonessential businesses in Maryland to close as coronavirus spreads

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a coronavirus press conference in Annapolis on March 12, 2020. (Matt McDonald/For The Diamondback)

Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order closing all nonessential businesses in Maryland to combat the spread of the coronavirus at a press conference Monday morning.

The executive order will take effect at 5 p.m. Monday. Businesses defined as “critical infrastructure sectors” by the federal government — such as health care, food, law enforcement, financial services, public works and transportation — are not included in the latest order, Hogan said.

“We are not issuing a shelter in place order,” said Hogan. “Unless you have an essential need to leave your house, stay at home.”

[Read more: Gov. Hogan advising all public Maryland universities to finish semesters online]

The tightened guidelines are a response to the growing number of cases in Maryland and the “reckless” behavior of people who have been noncompliant with state and federal guidelines, said Hogan. Reported cases in Maryland increased by 93 percent over the weekend, with a third confirmed death from a Montgomery County woman in her 40s.

“Unfortunately many people are not taking it seriously,” said Hogan. “If you are engaged in this kind of activity, you are breaking the law and you are literally endangering the lives of your family, friends and fellow citizens.”

Hogan said he was working with federal officials to find ways to provide assistance for small businesses and unemployed workers in Maryland.

“We need Congress to work together to support our efforts,” Hogan said. “The states continue to need more assistance and more action.”

So far, Maryland officials have enacted multiple responses to help small businesses and unemployed workers in Maryland.

Tiffany Robinson, secretary of the Maryland department of labor, said during the press conference that the state’s unemployment insurance program will further help employers and employees who have been affected by the coronavirus.

The Maryland department of labor has expanded eligibility for unemployment, said Robinson, as workers whose jobs have not been terminated can collect unemployment benefits if their employer has closed due to the coronavirus. Work-search requirements for unemployment benefit recipients have also been temporarily waived, Robinson said.

Last Thursday, Hogan signed emergency legislation allowing Maryland workers to collect unemployment if their business has been closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, or if they or their family members have been quarantined.

Hogan additionally announced that today he would be launching a $175 million business relief program “to help hard-pressed Marylanders and small businesses get through this difficult period.” A layoff aversion fund will also be available to help small businesses retain their employees during the shutdowns, said Hogan.

“To my fellow Marylanders, I know how incredibly difficult this is on each and every one of you,” said Hogan. “We are all in this together, and we will get through this.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Hogan said Maryland coronavirus increased by 678 percent over the weekend. Hogan did say that, but cases only increased by 93 percent over the weekend. Cases increased 678 percent over the past week. This story has been updated.

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