Johnny O: Baltimore County moves into Phase 1 reopening Friday

May 21, 2020

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski says there's been significant progress in expanding testing and Personal Protection Equipment. Olszewski says he’s confident that the County is ready to take the next steps and do so in a safe manner “that protects the health of our city residents.” Olszewski made the announcement Thursday morning. But, there are restrictions not everything is reopening.

Following progress in major indicators including expanded testing and increased access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for nursing homes, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced new actions to reopen key portions of Baltimore County’s economy while maintaining public health measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“With significant progress in expanding testing and PPE, I’m confident that Baltimore County is ready to take these next steps, and do so in a safe manner that protects the health of our residents,” Olszewski said. “While these steps are important, we’re not out of the woods yet, and I urge all residents to continue practicing social distancing to limit the spread of this virus.”

New Actions Effective Friday, May 22

County Executive Olszewski will issue an executive order stating that effective Friday, May 22, at 9 a.m., Baltimore County will take the following actions:

Retail stores may reopen for in-store retail with a maximum capacity of 10, including staff. This applies to all retail establishments outside of those considered essential under the state’s previous orders. Curbside pickup and delivery is strongly encouraged, and all public health precautions should remain in place. Shopping malls must continue to stay closed except for retail establishments that can be accessed from the outside.

Barber shops and hair salons may reopen with a maximum capacity of 10, including staff. They may operate by appointment only and with appropriate health and safety guidelines. Other personal services establishments must remain closed until further notice.

Clarification on Religious Institution Restrictions

County Executive Olszewski also clarified that the restrictions that were in place on all religious institutions in the state prior to last week remain in place in Baltimore County. That means that the restriction on gatherings of more than 10 remain in place, either indoors or outdoors. Religious institutions may hold drive-through or drive-in services, as some have done.

Residents Encouraged to Continue to Stay at Home

Baltimore County’s prohibition on indoor and outdoor gatherings or events of 10 or more people at all locations and venues remains in place. Residents and visitors to Baltimore County should strive to stay at home unless they are traveling to work or medical appointments, shopping for groceries or other retail goods, or traveling to outdoor recreational opportunities. Older and more vulnerable residents are strongly advised to continue staying home as much as possible.

Residents and visitors should practice safe physical distancing and wear masks in public, and frequently wash their hands and sanitize high-touch areas. Employers should continue to encourage telework for their employees when possible. Individuals who can work from home should continue to do so.

Baltimore County is still prohibiting indoor and outdoor gatherings with more than 10 people at restaurants, businesses, churches and other places where people gather. Religious institutions can still hold drive-through or drive-in services. Olszewski said his newly signed executive order does not include the reopening of other personal services, such as nail salons, massage parlors, and tattoo shops, which remain closed until further notice.