Prince George’s County will start a modified phase two reopening on Monday as many parts of Maryland lift restrictions starting Friday.
The impact of the coronavirus has lessened in recent weeks, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said at a news conference Thursday morning. She said county officials must make decisions that are appropriate for the county, even as others opt to reopen sooner.
“If the state is a little ahead of us, so be it. Our lives are just that important," she said.
Prince George's County
News4's Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reports.
Restaurants can operate with indoor and outdoor seating at 50% capacity.
Retail stores can open at 50% capacity. Barbershops and salons can operate by appointment, at 50% capacity. Public and private outdoor pools can operate at 25% capacity. Indoor pools must stay closed. Nail salons, barbershops and massage parlors can open with safety precautions.
Face masks still must be worn in stores and on public transit.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that the state can move into phase two reopening on Friday. The phase lifts some restrictions on restaurants, pools, gyms, casinos and outdoor recreation.
Prince George’s County started a modified phase one reopening on June 1 as the county has been hit hard by infections and deaths because of the virus. The latest data from the state says nearly 17,000 people in the county have been diagnosed with the virus. Almost 600 people have died.
The coronavirus positivity rate in the county dropped from a high of about 43% in mid-April to about 14% last week. Hospital capacity has increased.
Anyone who has gone to a demonstration or who plans to should get tested for the virus, Health Officer Dr. Ernest Carter said.
The county executive also spoke about the “pandemic of racism and inequality in this country.” Her own grandfather was murdered in South Carolina in 1956 by a sheriff’s deputy, she said.
“For African Americans, having a negative interaction with the police is like a bee sting. Almost all of us have either had one in our lifetime or we know someone who’s had one in their lifetime,” she said.
The county and the nation must “reimagine” the relationship between African Americans and police, she said. African Americans must also reimagine their freedoms, she added. Reforms in the county will be announced in the coming days.
This moment is about more than policing, Alsobrooks said. We also must address systemic inequalities in education, health care and food access.
Alsobrooks said she is against a proposal by a County Board of Education committee to terminate its contract with the police department and remove armed officers from schools. Withdrawing resources from schools is wrong, she said. Teachers, students and staff “deserve to be safe and to feel safe,” she said.