Prince George's to Tighten Coronavirus Restrictions, Require Masks Outdoors

Average daily case rates are two times higher than the benchmark goal in Prince George's County

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After four weeks of increases in the coronavirus case numbers, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks is restricting capacity at many businesses and requiring masks to be worn outdoors.

Starting Sunday at 5 p.m., new capacity limits will take effect, Alsobrooks said. Gathering sizes will also be limited to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, or one person or household per 200 square feet.

That means an 800-square-foot church basement could host four people or a 600-square-foot apartment could host three people, county health officer Dr. Ernest Carter said.

“It is time to hunker down,” Alsobrooks said at a press conference Thursday. “We are there in the midst of another surge.”

Masks and face coverings will now be required outdoors unless someone is vigorously exercising. This rule applies to most adults and children 5 years or older.

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“If you are outside your house and you are in public, you must have your mask on,” Dr. Carter said, even if you are outdoors or only with households.

NBCLX storyteller Clark Fouraker breaks down a UCLA study that says wearing a cloth mask can reduce droplet transmission up to 77% and is the best way to keeps ourselves and others safe from contracting COVID-19.

Alsobrooks called on people to keep wearing masks properly, always pulled up over the nose.

“It does not help us if your nose is exposed in any way,” Alsobrooks said.

New capacity limits will be implemented across many businesses, including:

  • Indoor dining establishments now limited to 25% capacity
  • Outdoor dining limited to 50% capacity
  • Bowling alleys and gyms limited to 25% capacity
  • Retail capped at 50% capacity
  • Churches are limited to 125 persons outside or 25% capacity inside

“All of the decisions that we are making going forward are data-driven decisions,” Alsobrooks said. “We’re going directly to the areas where we see the infection rates increasing.”

Prince George’s officials painted a dire picture of the coronavirus pandemic.

The average daily case rate is slightly above 20 per 100,000 population — more than double than the goal of 10. The rate is also rising, Alsobrooks said.

Hospitalizations and infections are persistently rising. Although there is sufficient hospital capacity now, officials are concerned about keeping beds open in the future.

Actions you can take to fight the virus include abiding by the restrictions, even if it means not hosting or attending holiday gatherings with anyone outside your household.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching and coronavirus cases on the rise, many families are debating whether to gather for the holiday, or how to do it safely. No matter what you decide, NBCLX storyteller Clark Fouraker has some tips for talking to your family about your plans, without starting a fight.

“Your loved ones will still love you,” Carter said. “Call anyone you may miss at the table this year.”

Carter recommends against traveling for Thanksgiving, even more so if you or a close contact has felt sick or tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks.

 “All of us are tired of COVID-19, but it is imperative that we stay the course,” Alsobrooks said.

Alsobrooks asked parents to stop dropping their kids off unsupervised at National Harbor, saying the kids are causing disturbances to the businesses and residents there.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to drop off unaccompanied minors," Alsobrooks said.

Meanwhile, the county is bolstering two economic relief programs. One restaurant relief program offers $25,000 so dining establishments can make changes to help them survive the pandemic. An employee relief fund gives out $300 gift cards to hourly employees who lost their jobs.

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