In a press conference Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that all bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m. for indoor service, starting on Friday. In addition, retail establishments and religious institutions, among others, will revert back to 50 percent capacity.
The announcement comes as the state sees a spike in COVID-19 cases, with more than 2,100 cases reported Tuesday and a 6.85 percent positivity rate. Throughout the press conference, Hogan stressed that Maryland’s COVID-19 death toll is steeper than the state’s annual death rates for the flu, car accidents and gun violence, combined.
“We are in a war right now, and the virus is winning,” Hogan said. “ Now, more than ever, I am pleading with the people of our state, to stand together a while longer to help us battle this surging virus.”
Hogan said his decision to close indoor service for food and alcohol establishments after 10 p.m. was based on reports of lower compliance later in the evening.
During the conference, Hogan also called on counties to enforce restrictions so that closures are not required. People can currently be fined up to $5,000 and face up to a year in prison if they violate emergency public health orders.
“We have seen widespread failures to follow orders and public health advisories statewide,” Hogan said.
Hogan, who said he canceled his family’s Thanksgiving dinner due to COVID-19, urged college students heading home for the holiday to get tested. Hogan said more than 220 testing sites are currently available across the state.
Hogan also announced several new health measures regarding hospitals in the state. Due to the rising surge of COVID-19 patients at hospitals, he announced an emergency order that allows hospitals near or at capacity to transfer patients to other hospitals.
Hogan also announced further restrictions on hospital visitation, and limitations on elective procedures.
The announcement comes after Hogan attended a meeting with the current White House Coronavirus Task Force on Monday. Hogan said he’ll meet with President-elect Joe Biden and his team Thursday to discuss the coronavirus response.
“I’m very concerned that we’re in the middle of this battle, and we have to make sure there is a smooth handoff,” Hogan said.