Maryland Gov. Hogan eases restrictions on outdoor dining, day camps, pools

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 Wednesday that outdoor seating at restaurants and some outdoor activities can resume Friday — the latest step in the reopening of the state’s economy. 

The outdoor activities — day camps, outdoor swimming pools and drive-in movie theaters — can resume as long as several guidelines, including some regarding capacity, are met, Hogan said. Social organizations like the veteran-oriented American Legion can also reopen outdoor dining facilities.

Individual counties will decide if they will follow that timeline, Hogan said.

In order for outdoor seating at restaurants to occur, physical distancing must be maintained, and no more than six people can be seated at a table, Hogan said. Other health measures include temperature checks for restaurant staff and sanitizing tables, chairs and menus after they are used.

“We must all continue to remain vigilant, particularly as we begin to come into contact with more people,” Hogan said.

The state has seen a decline or plateau in some metrics, including hospitalizations, the daily death rate and the testing positivity rate, Hogan said. The positivity rate for tests peaked April 17 at 26.9 percent, but that number has since dropped by more than half, he added.

[Read More: Gov. Hogan lifts stay-at-home order, allows some businesses to reopen]

If similar trends continue into next week, the state would be ready to enter phase two of its recovery plan — a decision that Hogan said would allow some nonessential businesses to reopen.

However, not all counties are seeing that level of success. In Prince George’s County, for example, there has been a nearly 50 percent drop in the county’s positivity rate since it peaked on May 2, but the current rate of about 22 percent is significantly higher than the statewide average. 

The county, which has the most confirmed cases of any locale in the state, has not begun its reopening process. It is set to do so June 1, about three weeks after Hogan first announced the state was ready to start reopening.

And, even with the loosened restrictions, Hogan urged Marylanders to continue to take proper precautions.

“Though we continue to make great progress toward recovery, COVID-19 is still very much a deadly threat,” Hogan said. “Our responsible behavior is absolutely critical in the continued efforts to defeat it.”

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