Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is ordering new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The state issued a public health advisory which lowers the gathering limit from 25 to 10 people.
Maryland is also advising against all non-essential activities and holiday gatherings with people outside of your immediate household.
“Our message today is simple: you are safer at home for the holidays this year," the Republican governor said at a news conference. "Making difficult sacrifices during these next few weeks will absolutely help keep your family, loved ones and your fellow Marylanders safe. It will help our hospitals keep up with the demand and it will save lives.”
An executive order limits travel to essential purposes only. Marylanders who travel out of state or those who travel to Maryland must get a negative COVID-19 test result or self-quarantine for 10 days.
“This holiday season could present perhaps our toughest challenge yet,” Hogan said. “After doing so well for so long, we simply cannot afford to let our guard down.”
Law enforcement won't track travelers' compliance, Hogan said.
“We’re just going to rely on the good faith of the people that are going to listen to these orders, because they’re critically important to keeping people alive, and we’re going to try to ensure as much compliance as we can and just get people to cooperate," Hogan said.
The state instituted mandatory telework for state employees and is suspending all in-person, customer-facing operations at state facilities for two weeks beginning Monday.
The governor encouraged businesses that are able to also institute telework and limit in-person interactions as much as possible.
Hogan also announced an additional $180 million in state economic relief to help hard-hit families and businesses.
The relief package will include $50 million to help hotels and hospitality businesses and $30 million to help restaurants. Another $15 million will be set aside for entertainment venues, as well as $5 million specifically for businesses in rural counties. There will be $40 million to boost temporary case assistance benefits over the next six months and $40 million for developmentally disabled care providers to accelerate a 4% salary increase to begin Jan. 1, which is six months ahead of schedule.
The governor said that brings the total amount of emergency state aid during the pandemic to more than $600 million. He said he'll be proposing more to lawmakers early next year.
“When the legislature returns to work next month for the 2021 session, we will be proposing a much larger economic and stimulus relief package, which will provide further support for our struggling families and small businesses," Hogan said.