Maryland will be easing more restrictions as part of stage two reopening beginning at 5 p.m. Friday as coronavirus testing positivity rates plummet, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday.
Hogan said 23 of 24 jurisdictions have positivity rates in single digits, with Prince George’s County highest at 11.44%. The state is meeting all metrics, he said.
"We have not just flattened the curve, we have actually crushed the curve in Maryland,” Hogan said.
Restaurants will be allowed to reopen their dining rooms at 50% capacity with tables 6 feet apart, no more than six customers at a table unless they are family, masks for customers and employees, and following sanitization guidelines. Self-serve and buffets will be prohibited, Maryland Deputy Health Secretary Fran Phillips said.
As a man in his 60s and a cancer survivor, Hogan said he won’t be entering any restaurants soon.
“I would not feel comfortable dining inside,” he said.
Outdoor amusements and rides like go-karts and miniature golf can also resume Friday. Swimming pools can increase capacity to 50%.
Gyms and fitness studios like dance and martial arts studios can reopen at 50% capacity June 19. They must follow infection control guidelines and post signage about hand sanitation and social distancing.
Casinos, arcades and malls will be allowed to reopen June 19, as well.
“As we continue to come in contact with more people, we must remain vigilant,” Hogan said.
Schools can begin reopening to small groups of students and staff for summer school programming, State School Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon. There will be a maximum of 10-15 students allowed in rooms.
Coronavirus Cases in Maryland by Zipcode
Data for ZIP codes with 7 or fewer cases is suppressed.
Credit: Anisa Holmes/NBC Washington
The focus will be on students most deeply impacted pandemic or who struggled with distance learning. That includes younger students and students who lack resources for distance learning.
Programs for children with disabilities also may reopen.
Reopening schools are developing a recovery plans, and health and safety guidelines must be addressed.
All child care providers can open with a maximum of 15 people in one room.
Plans are being made for safe transportation of students, and outdoor high school sports practices are allowed under the same guidelines as youth sports leagues.
Hogan also advised protesters to get tested for COVID-19 and avoid contact with the more vulnerable population.
He raised concerns about the “dramatic and immediate end of physical distancing” at protests. The state saw a jump from a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people to thousands of people gathered together.