Maryland Gov. Hogan announces state will enter phase two of reopening plan on Friday

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 the state will be entering the second phase of its three-part reopening plan Friday, which allows more nonessential business to reopen.

Tattoo parlors and nail salons are among the services allowed to reopen, but the businesses can only operate at 50 percent capacity and by appointment only. However, like previous decisions, it will be up to individual counties to make the final call on which businesses can reopen within their jurisdictions.

“The list of Maryland businesses that are open is now much, much longer than the list of those few which will have to remain closed a little while longer,” Hogan said.

But before Hogan discussed the state’s reopening plan, Hogan acknowledged the death of George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis who died May 25 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes.

Hogan credited the “thousands of young people and community leaders” who protested peacefully across the country, including in Baltimore, but he acknowledged that Floyd’s death means much more progress is needed in the United States.

“[It] has served as another reminder that we still have a long way to go to live up to our nation’s highest ideals,” Hogan said.

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

When he shifted gears to phase two, Hogan announced that the state continues to see a decrease in both the coronavirus positivity rate and hospitalizations — two statistics that have served as barometers for state decision makers.

For example, he said, the weekly positivity rate has dropped to a third of what it was at its peak in mid-April. Now, less than 10 percent of testing kits reveal positive diagnoses. 

Hogan also announced that the University of Maryland medical school will convert one of its labs into a clinical testing lab.

Prince George’s County, which has nearly 16,o00 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, began to reopen Monday. The county has experienced the same rate of decline as the state, but its positivity rate is at about 14 percent. It is one of the last jurisdictions in the state to begin to reopen, and it has not given indications that it will enter phase two when the state does.

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

“I also want to continue to remind the people of Maryland that moving into stage two does not mean that this crisis is behind us or that we can afford to stop being vigilant and cautious,” Hogan said.

The nonessential businesses reopening join those the state allowed to reopen in phase one, including retail stores, barber shops and restaurants with outdoor seating. However, many types of businesses remain closed, including indoor gyms and movie theaters — something that Hogan said could change by the fall.

If “really encouraging trends” continue, the governor said, more businesses could continue to reopen by the end of the school year.

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