Maryland Orders Nonessential Businesses to Close as Coronavirus Diagnoses Rise to 288

Maryland has already closed schools, malls and entertainment venues and ordered restaurants to stop dine-in service

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered all nonessential businesses to close by 5 p.m. Monday. That includes all businesses not designated as critical infrastructure sectors by the federal government.

Grocery stores, restaurants, farmer's markets, convenience stores, liquor stores and cafeterias can remain open. The prohibition on dine-in service continues. Anyone who works in the food supply chain, from farmers to delivery drivers to retail workers, is considered essential.

What to Know

  • The global coronavirus pandemic has prompted leaders in D.C., Maryland and Virignia to temporarily close schools and some businesses
  • Coronavirus causes symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath
  • Most people have mild symtoms and can recover in about two weeks, while more serious cases can require hospital care

Some other businesses that are considered essential and can stay open include: hotels, electrician firms, janitorial firms, laundromats, dry cleaners, TV stations, banks, insurance companies, staffing companies and transportation companies.

Here's a government explainer on what can stay open.

Hogan said the measures are necessary to protect state residents and save lives. He explicitly said the state is not issuing a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order at this time, but police will be enforcing bans on gatherings of 10 or more people.

"Unless you have an essential reason to leave your house, stay home," Hogan said.

Several states and localities across the country have ordered people to shelter in place or stay at home unless absolutely necessary, but Gov. Hogan opted

"I think our actions are actually more aggressive than some states who have ordered shelter-in-place," Hogan said. "We don't think it's as Draconian, to lock people in their homes but to stop some of the places where they gather."

Hogan said that when businesses and gathering spots are closed, people have good reason to follow the advice to stay home. He didn't comment on people gathering with friends or family and said the state was evaluating its actions every day.

The DC-Area Coronavirus Outbreak in Pictures

Maryland to Funnel Relief Money to Small Businesses

Hogan announced several multi-million-dollar grants and loan funds that will be funneled towards small businesses. These loans and grants can be used to pay essential bills, like rent, and keep employees on the payrolls.

That includes the $75-million Maryland Small Business Covid-19 Relief Fund, which will provide working capital to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees, and a $50 million COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund, which will give direct immediate grants to up to 10,000 small businesses that have lost revenue.

For individual relief, the state's unemployment office is accepting claims. Marylanders can immediately apply for unemployment after losing a job.

The governor announced a $5 million incentive fund to encourage businesses to produce masks, which are essential to protecting health care workers from the coronavirus.

Hogan has already urged residents to stay home and socially distance themselves to protect from the spread of disease.

"Unprecedented Actions" to Fight Coronavirus

Maryland had adopted what the governor called "unprecedented actions," canceling school through March 27, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and directing all restaurants halt dine-in service as cases rose last week. The state also directed enclosed malls and entertainment venues to close.

But Hogan expressed concern last week that Marylanders weren't taking social distancing orders seriously enough, saying he was hearing reports of gatherings in public parks.

"Let me be very clear. If you are engaged in this type of activity, you are in violation of state law and you are endangering the lives of your fellow Marylanders."

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms including fever. shortness of breath and cough. Recovery might take about two weeks. Severe illness including pneumonia can occur, especially in the elderly and people with existing health problems, and recovery could take six weeks in such cases.

Thus far, three people in Maryland have died from COVID-19, state health officials said. A total of 288 people have been diagnosed with the disease.

Several states and counties have taken a more extraordinary step in ordering residents to shelter in place or stay at home, including several counties around San Francisco and the state of Illinois.

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