Hogan issues “stay at home” order, violations punishable by jail time

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a COVID-19 press conference in Annapolis, Maryland, on March 12, 2020. (Matt McDonald/The Diamondback)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced a stay-at-home order for the state of Maryland at a press conference Monday morning.

Marylanders aren’t to leave their homes unless they’re doing so for an essential reason, such as purchasing groceries or medications. Violations of Hogan’s latest order would result in a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both.

The order does not apply to essential businesses, defined in the order as those “part of the critical infrastructure sectors” per federal guidelines.

The order also does not apply to “Essential Activities” including caring for family members, friends and pets at another home or location. Exercising outside, traveling to an educational institution to get meals or instructional materials or for necessary visits to federal, state or local government business is permitted as well.

Non-essential businesses are limited to a narrow set of activities. These include performing administrative tasks such as payroll, facilitating teleworking, maintaining essential property, caring for live animals and preventing spoilage of perishable inventory.

But even at essential businesses, Hogan requested owners scale back operations — keeping interactions with customers to a minimum, using limited personnel and instituting telework where possible.

[Read more: “Trying to make lemonade out of lemons”: UMD professors prepare to move classes online]

There are now over 1,400 COVID-19 cases in Maryland ー an increase of 174 cases since Sunday.

“This virus is spreading rapidly and exponentially,” Hogan said.

Several cases have been confirmed within the University of Maryland community, including a couple students who studied abroad, a student who worked in a dorm on the campus and a contractor for the University Health Center and the athletics department.

And on Saturday, authorities in Charles County arrested a man who had hosted two large gatherings, in defiance of Hogan’s earlier executive order, which limited gatherings to 10 people.

Hogan said he needed to take more drastic action in light of the rising number of cases and instances of individuals ignoring his previous executive orders.

While discussing the latest order on Monday, Hogan cited estimates from the Trump administration that put peak potential U.S. novel coronavirus cases in the millions. Hundreds of thousands would die in that scenario, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. That would be more American deaths than the Korean War and the Vietnam War added together, Hogan said.

“We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so,” Hogan said.

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