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Hogan closes non-essential businesses

St. Mary’s County Health Department

The St. Mary’s County Health Department is located on Peabody Street in Leonardtown.

The governor of Maryland has added to the list of restrictions in place during the new coronavirus pandemic, namely that all non-essential businesses must close.

“Unfortunately, many people are still not taking it seriously,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said at a Monday morning press conference about COVID-19.

He added that there were crowds of people visiting the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., and large gatherings at Ocean City’s beach and boardwalk, among other places.

“Let me repeat this once again as strongly as I possible can, if you are engaged in this type of activity you are breaking the law and you are literally endangering the lives of your family, your friends and your fellow citizens,” he said.

All St. Mary’s County government administrative buildings are now closed to the public until further notice, according to a release sent Monday.

Administrative leave is in effect for nonessential county employees, and essential county workers should report or adhere to teleworking schedules as directed by supervisors.

Hogan first declared a state of emergency March 5 when only three Marylanders had tested positive for the virus. On March 12, he announced that all Maryland public schools were to close for two weeks, March 16 to March 27. On March 16, Hogan said all bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms were to be closed indefinitely with carry-out, drive-throughs and delivery to remain open. And Monday morning, with over 300 Marylanders testing positive for the virus and three deaths as of Tuesday afternoon, he announced all non-essential business would close at 5 p.m.

“Fear not: liquor stores in Maryland may remain OPEN,” Mike Ricci, Hogan’s director of communications, tweeted.

Other businesses, organizations and facilities to remain open include the chemical sectors like pharmaceutical and chemical manufactures, commercial facilities like building and property maintenance companies, janitorial firms, laundromats, dry cleaners, construction companies and self-storage facilities and communications sector like broadcasting companies.

Critical manufacturing companies, defense industrial base sector, emergency services, heath care, financial services, food and agriculture, transportation, information technology, water systems and government facilities will remain open as well.

Naval Air Station Patuxent River has made more minor adjustments to its status.

“We’re still open and operational,” Patrick Gordon, base’s public affairs officer, told the Enterprise Monday afternoon.

He said those who had access to the installation still do. Along with maximizing telework, the health protective conditions went from Bravo to Charlie minus, a step below Charlie.

Bravo status includes practicing social distancing, following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no handshaking and wiping common used areas.

Charlie would include those practices but leaders have the option to order shelter-in-place or other base restrictions.

“But we’re not there yet,” Gordon said Monday.

He said those with specific questions about teleworking or status should check with their supervisors or chains of command.

During Monday’s press conference, Hogan also announced a $175 million economic relief pack for Maryland’s small business and workers. He also launched a COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund that will provide $7 million to support business and workers undergoing economic stress due to the virus.

As of Tuesday morning, St. Mary’s County had three residents who tested positive for coronavirus.

Twitter: @KristenEntNews

Twitter: @KristenEntNews

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