At a special virtual public meeting late Thursday, the Charles County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to delay implementing the governor's "Roadmap to Recovery" until May 29. The current stay-at-home order will stay in place at least until then.
“I am committed to a regional approach to reopening our economy,” Commissioners' President Reuben B. Collins II (D) said in a press release following the meeting. “Our community’s response has been excellent so far and I want to continue that trend by asking our residents and businesses to continue following the Stay-at-Home order while preparing for the next phase of our recovery. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all residents remains my highest priority.”
Collins and Commissioners Amanda M. Stewart (D) and Thomasina O. Coates (D) voted to delay the roadmap, while Commissioners Bobby Rucci (D) and Gilbert "BJ" O. Bowling III (D) voted to follow the governor's plan.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced on Wednesday that the state would begin, at 5 p.m. today, May 15, phase 1 of his plan to lift the stay-at-home order devised to suppress the spread of the novel coronavirus and allow some businesses, as well churches, to begin some semblance of normal operations with social distancing and extra cleaning precautions still in place. The directive to wear masks in indoor public spaces remains in place throughout the state, and personal service businesses, as well as bars and restaurants, would remain shuttered. Salons and barber shops, for instance, can only operate by appointment.
Charles County's leaders decided to join other jurisdictions like Prince George's and Montgomery counties to put the brakes on the governor's plan for the time being, based on local conditions and advice by professionals monitoring the pandemic in the county.
"The Stay-at-Home Order will remain in place in Charles County until [May 29]," the county government's press release said. "After that, Charles County will begin a phased-approach recovery plan to initiate a safe and sensible path to reopen certain retail businesses, houses of worship, and other personal services."
Before voting, the commissioners received briefings to gather data and other relevant information from county attorney Wes Adams; Dr. Howard Haft, who is in charge of the county’s response to COVID-19 on behalf of the Charles County Health Department; Michelle Lilly, the director of the Department of Emergency Services; Noel Cervino, CEO of the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center; and Tom Blanford, chair of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, according to the release.