Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Authorities in Maryland, US, to ease COVID-19-related business restrictions, lift stay-at-home order from 1700 May 15.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Washington, DC
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Salisbury, Maryland
  • Annapolis, Maryland
  • Hagerstown, Maryland
  • Frederick, Maryland

This alert began 13 May 2020 23:09 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Maryland (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Continuing transport and commercial disruptions

Summary
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan plans to ease statewide business restrictions and lift the stay-at-home order that had been imposed as part of the effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) over the coming days. Under the new directive, starting 1700 May 15, retail stores and personal services, such as barbershops and hair salons, along with certain other businesses may re-open, provided they adhere to certain requirements aimed at controlling COVID-19. Such mandates include operating at reduced customer capacity, adhering to social distancing standards, and requiring the use of protective face masks, among other measures. At the same time, manufacturing will be allowed to resume operations, and the state's stay-at-home order will be rescinded.

The governor's state-level recovery plan, however, also empowers individual counties in Maryland to exercise discretion and delay relaxing restrictions based on local disease activity and other circumstances. Montgomery and Prince George's counties - the two most populous counties in the state - have already declared their intent to postpone relaxing restrictions beyond May 15. Other counties may adopt similar local policies.

Social gatherings of 10 or more people will remain prohibited throughout the state, and restaurants continue to be allowed to operate exclusively on a pickup and delivery basis. Residents must continue to wear face coverings whenever they are inside a retail establishment, or when riding public transportation. Employers must provide face coverings to essential workers who face the public.

Significant transport and business disruptions will likely continue. Authorities will almost certainly keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing remaining measures; security presence and enforcement policies could vary by county. Officials could amend the order in short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Maryland authorities are similar to actions adopted by other governments in the US and globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential travel in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers. Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent hand-washing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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