Prince George’s County is set to enter the next step of its reopening plan next week, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced at a press conference Thursday morning.
The county, which has the most cases of COVID-19 in the state, will allow indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants to resume — with capacity limits — at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 15. Employees will be required to receive health screenings before their shifts and wear face masks, among other safety precautions, Alsobrooks said.
In-store retail shopping can resume with strict capacity limits and health safeguards in place. Childcare facilities will also be able to reopen for the children of essential workers and all others who are now returning to work.
Houses of worship and outdoor pools will be allowed to reopen, with a limit of 25 percent capacity and strict social distancing measures in place. Among other businesses allowed to reopen are nail salons, spas and barbershops. Indoor gym facilities, however, will remain closed.
Alsobrooks cited the county’s declining death rate from the virus — as well as a consistently lower number of hospitalizations — as the basis for the decision. Since June 1, she said, the county has not exceeded 150 hospitalizations due to the virus. The county’s positivity rate is also at a record-low of 14.1 percent, she said.
But, she emphasized, although things have improved, this is not a return to normalcy.
“COVID-19 is still very much a part of our community,” Alsobrooks said. “We will not be able to return to the way that things were … we are not out of the woods.”
Alsobrooks also referenced the recent protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Minnesota Black man. Any county residents who have participated in a march or protest, she said, should get tested for the virus.
With the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state — 17,468 as of Thursday — Prince George’s County has taken longer to reopen than other counties in the state.
Though Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lifted the statewide stay-at-home order on May 15, Alsobrooks only lifted the county’s stay-at-home order on June 1.
“Moving into phase two, I will tell you, is exciting,” Alsobrooks said. “We must all do our part to continue to be safe, and we’re cautious, as well.”