Governor Hogan Orders Closure of Bars and Restaurants, Announces Unprecedented Public Health Surge To Combat COVID-19 Crisis

The following is a March 16 release from the office of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan:

Governor Larry Hogan today ordered the closure of bars and restaurants, and expanded the prohibition on gatherings to those of more than 50 people—the latest in a series of unprecedented actions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor also announced a public health surge to combat this crisis and ensure that Maryland has the capacity and the infrastructure to treat patients.

“We have never faced anything like this ever before,” said Governor Hogan. “This is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding. And unfortunately, far too many people have chosen to continue crowding bars and restaurants, willingly putting the health and safety of others in grave danger. Decision makers at the federal, state, and local level are going to have to take drastic actions right now that may seem scary and may sound extreme. They will be terribly disruptive, but they are also absolutely necessary to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

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Watch today’s press conference, including Q&A with Deputy Health Secretary Fran Phillips; State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Karen Salmon; Maryland National Guard Adjutant General Timothy Gowen; and Maryland State Police Superintendent, Colonel Woodrow “Jerry” Jones.

Below is a comprehensive list of actions the governor announced during his press conference at Government House:

Social Distancing

CLOSURE OF BARS, RESTAURANTS, FITNESS CENTERS, AND THEATERS: Governor Hogan has issued an amended executive order to close all bars and restaurants in the state, as well as fitness centers, spas, and theaters, effective at 5:00 p.m. today. Read the emergency order. 

  • The order allows for restaurants to continue carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery services, and allows for eateries in health care facilities to remain open.

PROHIBITION ON GATHERINGS OF MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE: Effective immediately, gatherings of more than 50 people, including social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings, are prohibited at all locations and venues. Read the emergency order.

  • Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded.

Public Health Surge

“At my direction, we are marshaling every tool in the arsenal of public health to combat this crisis and slow the spread of this pandemic,” said Governor Hogan. “It is impossible to know how long this threat will continue. What I do know is that we cannot afford to wait to take action. While these measures may seem extreme, if we don’t take them now, it could be too late.”

Governor Hogan has issued an omnibus health care order that puts into place the following:

STANDING UP AN ADDITIONAL 6,000 BEDS: Governor Hogan has directed the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to work with providers to reopen closed hospital facilities across the state and take other measures necessary to immediately increase our capacity by an additional 6,000 beds.

ACTIVATION OF MARYLAND RESPONDS MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS: At the governor’s direction, the Secretary of Health has activated the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps, a trained and dedicated force of 5,000 volunteers from across the state.

RESOURCE CONTROL: The Secretary of Health is ordered to establish and implement appropriate policies and procedures for receiving, stockpiling, rationing, and distributing all assets received by the State of Maryland from the Strategic National Stockpile and all assets needed for COVID-19 testing.

INTERSTATE RECIPROCITY FOR HEALTH CARE LICENSES: Under the order, any person who holds a valid, unexpired license as a health care practitioner that is issued by another state may, at a health care facility in Maryland, engage in the activities authorized under that license.

INACTIVE PRACTITIONERS: Any inactive practitioner may, at a health care facility in Maryland, engage in activities that would have been authorized under his/her inactive license without first reinstating his/her inactive license.

ELECTIVE MEDICAL PROCEDURES: The Secretary of Health is authorized and ordered to take actions to control, restrict, and regulate the use of health care facilities for the performance of elective medical procedures, as necessary to respond to the catastrophic health emergency.

Relief for Residents and Families

PROHIBITION ON UTILITY SHUTOFFS: Governor Hogan has issued an emergency order that prohibits electric, gas, water, sewage, phone, cable TV, and internet service provider companies from shutting off any residential customer’s service, or charging any residential late fees. Read the governor’s emergency order.

PROHIBITION ON EVICTIONS: Governor Hogan has issued an emergency order that prohibits Maryland courts from ordering the eviction of any tenant who can show that their failure to pay rent was the result of COVID-19—for example, because of lost or reduced unemployment, or needing to care for a school-aged child—or because they are diagnosed with, or under investigation for, COVID-19. Read the governor’s emergency order.

EXPANSION OF AVAILABLE SCHOOL MEALS: State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) applied for a federal waiver and beginning today, has the capability to provide three meals a day, and a snack, to students impacted by the statewide closure of schools. MSDE has 138 meal distribution centers across the state, which can be found at mdsummerschools.org.

Activation of Additional Personnel

NATIONAL GUARD: After issuing an executive order last week directing the National Guard to move to a higher state of readiness, the governor announced the activation of two Area Support Medical Companies in order to carry out any necessary emergency functions and critical areas of need in the coming weeks. At the direction of Major General Timothy Gowen, as of Monday, 1,000 Maryland National Guard soldiers and airmen are fully activated and another 1,200 guardsmen are currently in a state of enhanced readiness.

MOBILE FIELD FORCE: At the direction of Colonel Jerry Jones, the Maryland State Police has activated its Mobile Field Force, which is composed of 250 Maryland State Troopers who are ready to be deployed across the state.

Resources for Businesses. The Maryland Departments of Commerce and Labor have compiled resources to help businesses whose daily operations are affected during the state of emergency. Members of the business community are encouraged to reach out with their questions by sending a message to Secretary.Commerce@maryland.gov.

State of Emergency. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. The State of Maryland is continuing to operate under a state of emergency, and all levels of government are taking a comprehensive, collaborative approach to keep Marylanders safe. The list of ongoing state actions is available at governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

For health resources regarding COVID-19, including case counts and clinician guidance, Marylanders should visit coronavirus.maryland.gov.

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