Severity: Warning Alert

Transportation: Officials in Maryland, US, expand protective face masks order, issue travel advisory July 29 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

  • Alert Begins: 30 Jul 2020 01:40 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 17 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Maryland (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business disruptions

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued orders July 29 to expand the requirement for residents to wear protective face masks in public, and advising against travel to certain states, as part of the efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities also indicated that the state will remain on Stage 2 of its economic recovery plan until further notice, due to recent increases in COVID-19 activity.

Under the new protective face masks directive, all residents and visitors over the age of five must wear protective face masks in public areas of all businesses across the state, as well as in outdoor settings whenever social distancing measures are not possible. Officials also issued a travel advisory, which strongly urges residents to avoid travel to other US states with COVID-19 positivity rates over 10 percent, and recommends anyone traveling from those areas to obtain a COVID-19 and self-quarantine while they wait for the test results. As of July 30, the states affected under the advisory are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, Texas, and South Carolina.

Otherwise, Maryland will remain on Stage 2 of its four-tier COVID-19 recovery plan. Under Stage 2, a wide range of nonessential businesses and other facilities, such as restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, casinos, and outdoor entertainment venues can operate at 50-percent capacity. Personal care businesses and retailers have also been allowed to reopen. All establishments that have reopened must comply with state mandates aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, including enforcing social distancing guidelines, implementing enhanced sanitization procedures, and ensuring the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), among other things.

Some cities and counties have imposed stricter measures at the local level amid recent surges in disease activity. Officials in Baltimore city have ordered restaurants and bars to suspend indoor service through at least Aug. 6. Such establishments may continue serving patrons in outdoor areas. In Anne Arundel County, restaurants, bars, and other food establishments must close indoor service at 2200 daily; authorities issued this order July 24. Food courts in indoor shopping malls must close. Indoor gatherings of more than 25 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people are banned.

Business disruptions will likely continue. Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. 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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