Gov. Hogan orders bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters to close

Posted at 11:18 AM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 13:51:44-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WMAR) — On Monday, Governor Larry Hogan announced a series of drastic measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Among them was an executive order closing all bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms in the state, effective Monday at 5 p.m. Takeout, delivery, and drive thru service will still be allowed.

"We have our bills to pay and gas and electric and landlords to pay and food distributors, our supplies, everything has to be paid for so if we close our doors, it's not good," said Slice in Towson owner Paul Rizas. "Starting delivery is going to be a big help for this so for the customers who don't want to leave their homes, we'll bring the food to them."

Right now shopping malls are allowed to remain open, as long as stores cooperate with the 50 person capacity restrictions, and food courts serve only on a takeout basis.

Food Trucks can also remain open but in order to avoid crowds, shouldn't operate in the same place as several other trucks.

The order to close bars and eat-in dining rooms does include private country and yacht clubs and social groups like the VFW and American Legion.

The Maryland Departments of Commerce and Labor have compiled resources to help businesses whose daily operations are affected, including how to apply for federal financial assistance and unemployment insurance claims.

Some businesses have opted to voluntarily close entirely while others, like fitness studios, are scrambling to put together online training or outdoor workouts, adapting their business to keep people safe and stay afloat.

"It's not a wonderful thing that's happening but it's for a reason and we all have to adapt and we have to fight through it," said Rizas.

Banks, gas stations, pharmacies, and grocery stores will remain open.

Hogan also banned any gatherings of 50 or more people at social, community, religious, recreational, and sporting events, in accordance with the CDC guidelines.

The Governor is also looking to have 6000 additional beds available by re-opening closed hospitals to help accommodate an influx of possible future cases of COVID-19 patients.

Hogan said he is authorizing doctors from out of state, who may not be licensed in Maryland, to practice in the state during the outbreak.

Additionally, Hogan activated 1000 members of the National Guard and at least 700 volunteers with the Medical Reserve Corps.

Hogan also prohibited utility companies from shutting off residential services, including electric, gas, water, sewage, phone, cable, TV, and internet, or charging late fees during the State of Emergency. He also ordered landlords to hold off on all scheduled evictions.

Public schools will also be offering three free meals a day for all students under 18. To find a pick-up location near you, click here.

The newest measures come following last week's announcement to close all Maryland public schools until at least March 27.

Hogan said there is no timetable on how long the orders will last. He said local and state police will strictly enforce the orders.

"We have never faced anything like this ever before,” said Governor Hogan. “This is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding. And unfortunately, far too many people have chosen to continue crowding bars and restaurants, willingly putting the health and safety of others in grave danger. Decision makers at the federal, state, and local level are going to have to take drastic actions right now that may seem scary and may sound extreme. They will be terribly disruptive, but they are also absolutely necessary to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

Currently there are 57 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

To read our latest up-to-date coverage on the virus, click here.