Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks issued an executive order Thursday ordering residents to adhere to a tightened set of guidelines as COVID-19 infection rates across the country and the state continue to trend upward.
Alsobrooks also issued another executive order requiring residents to wear face coverings outdoors unless engaged in rigorous exercise. All residents over the age of 5 should wear a mask and adults accompanying children aged 2 to 4 should also make an effort to have those children wear face coverings, Alsobrooks said.
The orders, which go into effect Sunday at 5 p.m., limit gatherings to 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors. Alsobrooks reminded residents that the guidance applies to both private residences and public facilities.
Data collected by the county suggests that indoor spaces like gyms, coffee shops, restaurants and hotels are particularly dangerous. Alsobrooks’ order requires some retail establishments to limit capacity to one person or family per 200 square feet and no more than 25 percent capacity or 50 people overall.
With holidays quickly approaching, the county is particularly concerned about transmission in essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies, ordering capacities to be lower than 50 percent. Though county officials understand residents have to visit these businesses, Alsobrooks said the county’s biggest issue is enforcement among residents and business owners.
“We have to make sure that all of those establishments are not only safe for the people who are shopping, but … we are very concerned about our essential workers who have to go into those stores to earn a living,” Alsobrooks said during a press briefing Thursday.
Restaurants will also be allowed to continue to operate, but capacity will be limited to 25 percent indoors and 50 percent outdoors. Alsobrooks also encouraged residents to continue to wear masks inside of restaurants, except when eating, to help limit the spread in indoor spaces.
“These are areas that are risky and are of concern to us,” Alsobrooks said.
When necessary, the county will impose fines and close down establishments that do not comply with the county’s guidelines or allow large gatherings to take place.
As of Nov. 7, the average daily case rate in Prince George’s County had increased to 20.6 cases per day per 100,000 residents, Alsobrooks said. County Health Officer Ernest Carter previously explained that the county’s rate should be below 10 cases per day, but now that rate has doubled and continues to rise, Alsobrooks said.
“Our infection rate is trending in the wrong direction,” Alsobrooks said. “Prince Georgians have worked so hard to limit the spread of COVID-19. And we have told you, and it’s still the case, we’re not finished yet with this particular fight.”