NORTH EAST — Mark Lintner is not the only Cecil County business owner scratching his head these days over which businesses in Maryland are deemed essential and are allowed to remain open.
“Maryland State Police came and shut us down,” the owner of Super Shine Car Wash on Route 40 in North East said Thursday. He was told his was the first car wash being closed down by order to stem the spread of COVID-19 simply because it is across the street from the North East barrack.
“But liquor stores are open. That doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.
Clean Enterprises Car Wash in Rising Sun was also shut down. However, the way Shannon Howell reads federal law self serve car washes are considered to be in the same category as a garage and should stay in operation.
“We have had conflicting reports as to whether self serve carwashes would be allowed to remain open, seeing as there is no person to person interaction and social distancing is definitely in effect with the bays as large as they are,” Howell said via email.
“When we originally asked the Secretary of Commerce and the Maryland Emergency Services Agency, they responded by sending me a link to the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel Interpretive Guidance Number: COVID 19-04 dated March 23, 2020. On page 4 of this guidance it states under section M. Transportation Systems Sector, number xii. “Companies that supply parts, or provide maintenance and repair services for transportation assets and infrastructure, including aircraft, marine vessels, locomotives, rail cars, trucks, buses, cars, heavy equipment, roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, air strips, marine terminals, railroads.”
The novel coronavirus can live on various surfaces including keypads, door handles and vacuum hoses at a car wash, Lintner acknowledged.
However, this was expected to be a busy time for Super Shine with pollen coating vehicles in addition to the holiday weekend.
“Pollen damages like salt,” Lintner said, to which Howell agreed.
“Many of our customers are upset with the ruling, most likely because they don’t want their vehicles’ paint and/or finish being damaged due to lack of appropriate care,” Howell said.
Lintner said he was told the orders come from the lack of participation in Gov. Larry Hogan’s stay at home order. He explained his employees were adhering to those guidelines.
“We watch everyone on camera and they space them properly,” he said. He added the officer that delivered copies of Hogan’s order to him was polite but unwilling to waiver.
Only car washes with government contracts are allowed to keep an automated bay in service, which is accessed with an RFID tag.