Hogan announces plan to eventually reopen Maryland

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) outlined a plan for the state to restart its economy and begin lifting coronavirus restrictions, but stressed that the state is not yet ready to start that process.

Hogan's three-tiered plan would lift the current stay-at-home order and slowly allow businesses to reopen and activities to resume based on how well they can accommodate strict physical distancing requirements.  

Hogan said he would implement the plan and start lifting restrictions only when the virus is under control, the number of hospitalizations begin to even out, and the state's public health system has enough capacity to handle any future spikes in coronavirus cases.  

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"The number of new cases of COVID-19 is still rising," Hogan said during a press conference. "Maryland is not yet able to lift our restrictions. I am optimistic that if Marylanders continue staying home and continue practicing physical distancing a little while longer, our numbers would continue to plateau."

Hogan said he was hopeful the state could begin its recovery in early May, but he said he wasn't going to commit to a specific timeframe. 

Even when it does start, he warned that the process will be slow, and physical distancing and mask use would be required through every stage.

"Until a vaccine is developed, the way we go about our daily lives and the way we work is going to be significantly different for a little while longer," Hogan said. "If we try to rush this and we don't do it in a thoughtful way, it could cause a rebound of the virus which would deepen the crisis.

"Each stage will likely take longer than the previous one," he added.

Under the lowest-risk tier, Hogan said the stay-at-home order would be lifted, businesses could begin curbside service, smaller retail stores could open, and limited activities like outdoor gym classes and small outdoor religious gatherings could resume.

Outpatient medical services would resume, and outdoor recreation like golfing, boating, fishing and tennis would be allowed to resume. Decisions would be based on the ability to continue physical distancing and limit person-to-person interactions, Hogan said. 

Medium- and high-risk entities, like public transit, large entertainment venues and nonessential businesses with workers who can't telework, would be allowed to open if conditions continued to improve. Sporting events would be among the last to resume.