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Maryland moves into Stage Two reopening, some starting Friday

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(l-r) Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford

Governor Larry Hogan says health metrics continue to trend in a positive direction and he's lifting more stage two coronavirus restrictions.  
Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, restaurants can offer indoor dining at half capacity with appropriate safety guidelines. Customers and restaurant staff should wear masks as much as possible, the number of people at a table should be limited and buffets and self-serve options should remain closed. Outdoor amusement parks and rides can also open Friday and outdoor pools may increase capacity to 50-percent.

Maryland's education community is moving forward with stage two reopenings that will allow in-building summer school, athletic programs, nonpublic special education, and child care. Also, safe outdoor graduation ceremonies can be held. State Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon says long-standing educational gaps have been further exposed by the pandemic and it's important that the most impacted students receive priority in the recovery. The education recovery plan is posted on the Maryland State Department of Education website.

Hogan is urging people who have taken part in recent protests to get tested for COVID-19 and avoid contact with vulnerable populations. The governor says the Maryland Department of Health and the National Guard will be opening multiple high-volume testing sites across the city, including the Baltimore Convention Center.  The governor says while coronavirus numbers continue to drop, the virus is still out there and people must remain vigilant as they begin to come in contact with others. "Indoor dining will be allowed to resume in Maryland at 50 percent beginning Friday at 5 p.m., Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday.

Restaurants will be required to follow strict public health requirements and CDC guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic, the governor said at a news conference in Annapolis Wednesday evening.
The health department is issuing guidelines to restaurants on how to safely reopen, Deputy Secretary of Health Services Fran Phillips said. Among the steps are requiring customers and staff members to wear masks as much as possible, keeping no more than six people at a table unless they live together and keeping buffets and self-serve options closed. Also able to open on Friday are outdoor amusement parks and rides, including mini-golf and go-kart tracks. Outdoor pools will be able to increase their capacities to 50 percent. 'While we are continuing to battle this deadly virus, we’re also fighting to protect and improve the health of those small businesses that have been suffering,' Hogan said.

 
In addition, indoor gyms, studio fitness activities, casinos, arcades, and malls will be able to reopen on June 19. The governor called earlier reopening steps in parts of the state 'a huge success.'”
 
Even though the governor is lifting more COVID-19 restrictions but Baltimore City remains on its own stage one recovery plan.  While many businesses in the state have been allowed to reopen with safety guidelines in place, small businesses in the city may only offer curbside service. The governor says it's absurd that thousands have been able to demonstrate in the streets but city business can't open.  While Hogan has allowed local jurisdictions to set their own recovery timelines, he says there may be a chat with Mayor Jack Young to move things along.

Baltimore County will begin "Seats on the Streets" outdoor dining in Towson this weekend.  Beginning this weekend Pennsylvania Avenue will be closed to traffic between York Road and Washington Avenue Saturday and Sunday evenings so restaurants and bars can offer expanded outdoor seating. Patrons must follow safety and social distancing guidelines and wear a mask when not seated and dining.