Hogan closes all non-essential businesses, releases funds for small businesses

Posted at 11:58 AM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 07:23:33-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan on Monday ordered all non essential businesses, organizations, establishments, and corporations to close effective at 5 p.m.

The Governor made clear it is not a shelter in place order, but citizens should stay at home as much as possible.

Maryland is using federal guidelines to determine which businesses qualify as essential.

Hogan also announced a $175 million economic relief package for Maryland small businesses and workers.

Maryland's Department of Commerce will offer up to $125 million in loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofits through the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

Included is a $75 million loan fund and a $50 million grant fund, with $1 million dedicated to non-profits, which can be used for payroll, rent, fixed-debt payments and other critical operating costs.

Businesses and nonprofits with under 50 full- and part-time employees will be eligible, with loans up to $50,000 and grants of up to $10,000.

Hogan allocated $5 million and the Maryland Department of Labor has allocated $2 million to launch the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund.

A total of $7 million will be available to provide flexible rapid response services to support struggling businesses and workers.

Hogan also warned businesses and retailers against price gouging, by signing an emergency order on everyday household items and essentials. Hogan says violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

To get more hospital space and bed availability to prepare for an increase in COVID-19 patients, Hogan has ordered alternate care sites to be established at the Baltimore Convention Center and Hilton Hotel. The state will work with the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins Medicine to launch them. Hogan is asking FEMA to deliver 250 beds and 50 bed packages for support. The University of Maryland Medical System has agreed to reopen Laurel Hospital, which will make another 135 beds available. Maryland's National Guard and the Maryland Department of Health will also be working with Prince George’s County and the University of Maryland Medical System on a pilot assessment location at FedEx Field in Landover.

As for COVID-19 testing, Hogan is now ordering health care providers to prioritize tests for hospitalized and chronic care patients, symptomatic first responders, and symptomatic nursing home patients.