Maryland Closes Businesses, Bans Large Gatherings in Sweeping Bid to Fight Coronavirus

“This is going to be much harder, take much longer and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced sweeping new measures to combat the spread of coronavirus on Monday, closing down businesses, banning large gatherings and expanding the number of people allowed to practice medicine in the state.

Maryland will close all bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms at 5 p.m. Monday in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, the governor said. Restaurants still can offer carryout, delivery and drive-thru service.

The state will also ban all gatherings of more than 50 people, Hogan said. That includes entertainment and religious gatherings at all establishments and venues across the state.

The executive order mandating these actions will be strictly enforced, Hogan said. "We're not fooling around anymore," he said.

There are no plans to close supermarkets, pharmacies or similar businesses that provide essential services, the governor said.

“This is going to be much harder, take much longer and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding," Hogan said at a news conference Monday, hours after the state announced the confirmed COVID-19 case number had risen to 37.

Maryland had already closed down schools and casinos and set limits on how many people can visit hospitals.

"It is impossible to know how long this threat will continue. What I do know --we cannot afford to wait," Hogan said.

Stepping Up Medical Capabilities

The governor also announced a set of actions to step up the state's ability to treat anyone who gets sick.

Doctors with out-of-state licenses or expired Maryland medical licenses will be allowed to practice medicine in the state. State officials will review any closed medical facilities that may be able to reopen.

The goal is to find 6,000 more beds in hospitals to meet increased demand. The state is receiving critical supplies, such as ventilators, from a national stockpile.

Seven hundred members of the Maryland Medical Corps have also been deployed and 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard are active, ready to help the effort.

Another 1,200 guardsmen are packed and ready to go if activated.

Assistance for Economic Hardship

Furthermore, the governor announced measures to ease the financial burden that strict measures may create. Utilities will not be allowed to cut off services, including phones, cable TV, gas or water.

Evictions will not be allowed until the emergency is over.

The state was granted a special waiver and can now serve hungry students three meals and a snack every day. The state expects to serve 100,000 meals over the next two weeks. You can find a site near you here.

Hogan said state and federal legislation is pending to assist anyone who faces real financial trouble.

Day Care for Emergency Responders

Day cares across the state have not been directed to close — and Maryland is working to open more facilities for any emergency staff who may have urgent or changing child care needs. Those extra facilities are expected to open Thursday, state officials said.

Stay with News4 for more on this breaking news.

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