Governor: County Health Depts Can Enforce “Unsafe” Businesses

Governor Larry Hogan today announced new measures to protect Marylanders from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Through executive order the Governor gives local health departments the ability to close an “Unsafe Facility” that is not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Governor Hogan’s Deputy Communications Director announced the move on Twitter while the Governor spoke at a press conference in Baltimore.

From the executive order:

Delegation of Authority to County Health Officers. If an Authorized Health Official determines that a business, organization, establishment, facility, or construction site in his/her political subdivision (an “Unsafe Facility”) is unable or unwilling to operate in a manner that does not pose an unreasonable risk of exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 (including, without limitation, as a result of non-compliance with Social Distancing Guidance), the Authorized Health Official is hereby authorized and directed to issue such orders as may be necessary to:

a. require the Unsafe Facility to modify its operations to comply with Social Distancing Guidance; or

b. designate all or part of the Unsafe Facility as a zone in which the occupancy and use of buildings may be controlled, and prohibit or limit the movement of individuals and/or vehicles into, in, or from the Unsafe Facility, including without limitation, by closing the Unsafe Facility.

“Authorized Health Official” means (i) with respect to a county in Maryland, the health officer for that county; and (ii) with respect to Baltimore City, the Commissioner of Health for Baltimore City.

For more information on how Maryland is responding to the COVID-19 crisis here are some useful links:

MD Department of Health Coronavirus Website

MACo COVID-19 Resource Page