ELKTON — Following Gov. Larry Hogan's order allowing local governments to partially reopen businesses, County Executive Alan McCarthy is doing so to the furthest extent possible.
Earlier this week, Hogan signed his Safer at Home plan calls for the gradual reopening of certain businesses and other activities that have been closed due to the coronavirus global pandemic. Local governments may implement more strict guidelines, but not those lesser than this advisory rule.
Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy, at 5 p.m. today, is opening the county to the fullest extent of the order.
“After consulting with our health officer yesterday, I am very happy to report that I have absolutely no plans for Cecil County to be more restrictive in our plans for re-opening,” he said Friday.
This first stage of reopening the state/county includes religious spaces, retail and manufacturing businesses, and barber shops/hair salons.
It also includes, but is not limited to, campgrounds and other outdoor activities, horseback riding, golfing, etc. Residents still must wear face masks when in indoor public spaces. The health department discourages use of playground and partaking in contact sports.
Each reopened business must periodically sanitize facilities and comply with state and other applicable rules. Social distancing, of at least 6 feet, is still in effect, and businesses must follow capacity limits.
Any questions about first phase of reopening can be directed to the Cecil County Health Department.
Health Officer Lauren Levy said that, though this is welcomed news, residents should keep in mind the "real toll" COVID-19 has taken on the county. There are more than 300 positive cases in a county of 100,000 — with 19 deaths as of noon May 15.
Levy noted the increase in staffing to conduct contract tracing. If residents receive a call from the health department or affiliate organizations, "please take it seriously," Levy said.
Residents, particularly vulnerable populations, are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible in order to reduce the threat of contracting the virus.
"Our ability to move on to phases 2 and 3 will be dependent on our success to adhering to these guidelines," Levy said.
Outline in Maryland's Road Map to Recovery are "stop signs" that will continue to be monitored as the state attempts to jump-start the social and professional lives of residents.
These include unexpected increases in hospitalizations, increase in patients in the ICU, indications that residents are not following social distancing practices and significant outbreaks of community transmission.
"This is a time to be happy," McCarthy said of phase 1 of the gradual reopening. "We have managed to reach this point by collectively battling the threat of the disease. ... If we manage well, the next phase will follow to open up our economies even more. If we do not manage well, we will suffer a set back — and none of us want that."
In closing, McCarthy encouraged residents to "embrace the moment" and support local businesses by buying local.