Prince George’s County will loosen capacity limits to 50 percent for all businesses and establishments on Friday at 5 p.m. as case rates decline and more residents get vaccinated, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced in a Thursday press conference. This includes indoor dining, gyms and houses of worship, among other establishments.

Alsobrooks’ announcement comes days after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he would be lifting all dining and indoor recreation capacity limits at the same time on Friday. Despite Hogan’s order, jurisdictions can still issue tighter restrictions. 

Indoor private gatherings in the county will be capped at 20 people, and outdoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 50 people, Alsobrooks added.

Prince George’s County is currently in phase 2 of its reopening plan, which means that restaurants and other food establishments are operating at 25 percent capacity indoors and at 50 percent capacity outdoors, according to the county’s website. Retail stores, gyms, indoor recreation centers and shopping malls are open at 25 percent capacity.

Prince George’s County is the state jurisdiction that has been hit hardest by the coronavirus – with 74,726 confirmed cases and 1,321 deaths since March 2020, Alsobrooks said. The number of cases is beginning to trend downwards, with the average positivity rate at 4.3 percent as of March 6, she added.

“I’m happy to be able to say that the future of Prince George’s County is beginning to look much brighter,” Alsobrooks said. 

[Gov. Larry Hogan to lift all capacity restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining in Maryland]

While the county has the lowest vaccination rate of all state jurisdictions, more than 100,000 residents have now received a first dose of the vaccine, Alsobrooks said. 

Seeking to ramp up vaccinations, the county will open two more vaccination sites: one at the Kentland Community Center in Landover and another at the Cedar Heights Community Center in Seat Pleasant, said Dr. George Askew, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for health, human Services and education. The county now has the capacity to deliver more than 15,000 vaccines per week, Askew said.

The county currently operates four vaccination clinics, according to the county website. The county also has three mobile vaccination units, Alsobrooks said. The Sports & Learning Complex clinic in Landover will be closed for maintenance March 13-28, Alsobrooks noted. 

Alsobrooks reiterated the state announcement that, starting next week, at least 300 appointments a day will be reserved for Prince Georgians at the Six Flags vaccination site. That announcement comes after Alsobrooks pushed the state to set aside more slots for county residents.

Alsobrooks urged residents to preregister for a vaccination appointment because officials are using those names to direct residents to the appointments the state has set aside for the county. 

The state will also begin directly facilitating about 10,000  priority appointments a week for county residents through a vaccination clinic at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro and through partnerships with pharmacies, Alsobrooks said.

“We are pleased that the governor’s office heard our concerns,” Alsobrooks said. “With these partnerships and increased access to vaccines, we hope to ensure the vaccines are distributed more equitably to the hardest-hit jurisdiction in the state.”