MD Senate Republicans to Hogan: Resist Calls to Rollback Reopening Plan

restaurant-3597677_1920 - pixabay - 6.1.20The Maryland Senate Republican Caucus today asked Governor Larry Hogan to resist calls to rollback the state’s reopening plan, which last month eased restrictions on gatherings and indoor activities such as eating in restaurants and visiting malls and recreational establishments.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Health Officers from Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties this week asked Governor Hogan to resume some COVID-19 related restrictions.

According to the the letter from the Senate Republican Caucus:

The misplaced assumption behind these demands is that these businesses are the cause of the recent increase in COVID positive test results among the low risk population of young adults under the age of 35. These demands are doubly misplaced.

First, now is not the time for irrational, punitive actions. We should maintain the steady course you have set. We are seeing significant and consistently favorable COVID-related data in Maryland – death rates have declined from a daily high of over 160 in May to under 10, hospitalization rates have been cut by two- thirds, and we have relatively low positivity rates across the board.

If any bars and restaurants are not complying with required safety measures, then local health departments should take appropriate action, including shutting down establishments that refuse to comply.

However, in our collective experience, the establishments we have patronized or seen in our communities have been operating responsibly.

Local leaders should continue to respect the Constitutional right of peaceful assembly, but with the common sense understanding that large gatherings will increase coronavirus numbers and young people should be made aware of the health risk.

We respectfully ask you to resist short-sighted demands to re-enact further restrictions or closures of bars and restaurants and ignore partisan attempts to scapegoat them. As always, we remain committed to working with you and your administration to encourage safety and responsibility.

Governor Hogan today reiterated that Maryland’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is based on a “flexible, community-based approach,” but said that he will not hesitate to take statewide actions if necessary.

In response to the rise in cases among young adults, Hogan last week called on counties – including Local Health Departments, liquor boards, and local law enforcement – to emphasize compliance with statewide orders for bar and restaurant practices, but stopped short of tightening restrictions on businesses.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young today signed an Executive Order suspending indoor dining at bars and restaurants in Baltimore City. Under the Mayor’s order, restaurants and bars are permitted to continue with outdoor dining that is socially distanced, along with offering carryout and delivery services. The Mayor’s order takes effect Friday, July 24, at 5:00 pm.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa also issued an order mandating the usage of cloth face coverings in Baltimore City. Under the order, “all City residents over the age of 2 need to wear face coverings whenever they are in public and maintaining a social distance of at least six feet is not possible.” City residents will not be required to wear face coverings if they are seated outdoors at a food service establishment.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Baltimore County issued a new public health order requiring the use of masks for everyone over the age of 2 in all indoor public spaces. County Health Officer Branch also encouraged the use of face coverings in outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible. The new mandate goes into Thursday, July 23.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Maryland Senate Republican Caucus Letter to Governor Hogan (July 22, 2020)

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: State Sets “Guardrails” for School Reopenings, LEAs Must Meet Benchmarks

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Baltimore City to Suspend Indoor Dining at Bars/Restaurants

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Health Officers Call for Return of Certain COVID Related Restrictions

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Baltimore County Reissues COVID-19 Mask Mandate