Hogan bans events of more than 10 people

Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Thursday that Maryland will adhere to federal guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus and prohibit events that draw more than 10 people. Hogan also said that all “enclosed shopping malls and entertainment venues” in the state must close today by 5 p.m. EDT.

A 60-year-old Prince George’s County resident with an underlying medical condition has become the first person in Maryland to die due to the coronavirus, he said. There are 107 confirmed cases of the virus in Maryland as of Thursday afternoon — including a 5-year-old girl in Howard County, Hogan said.

“Following updated CDC guidelines, today we have amended our previous executive order to prohibit any events of more than 10 people in close proximity at all locations, establishments and venues anywhere across Maryland,” Hogan said at a news conference that was held on the front steps of Government House in Annapolis.

“After working closely with our county executives and getting their input and guidance, we have jointly made the decision to close all enclosed shopping malls and all entertainment venues across Maryland effective at 5 p.m. today.”

Hogan issued a stern warning to those who defy orders that prohibit large gatherings.

“Despite all of our repeated warnings for weeks and despite the rapid escalation of this virus across our state, the region, the nation and the world — some people are treating this like a vacation or a spring break with parties and cookouts and large gatherings at some of our parks. Let me be very clear: You are in violation of state law and you are endangering the lives of your fellow Marylanders.”

Hogan said he has asked the Board of Regents to require university students to complete their coursework for the semester online. He announced an executive order that allows commercial trucks to exceed their weight limit in order to deliver more crucial supplies and equipment. The governor said 900 of the 6,000 hospital beds he ordered the Department of Health to make ready for use are now available, and an additional 1,400 beds should be available by next month.

Hogan announced an executive order to allow for the delivery and carry-out purchase of alcohol from bars and restaurants so far as the practice does not violate any local or county ordinances. The measure is designed to bring some relief to businesses that have been forced to limit their services, he said

Hogan announced new restrictions regarding access to BWI Marshall International Airport.

“Earlier this week I strongly urged all Maryland citizens to avoid unnecessary travel and we discouraged anyone from entering BWI Marshall Airport unless they are actually a traveling passenger or reporting to a job. That is no longer a recommendation.

“At my direction the Maryland Department of Transportation will now restrict access to the BWI terminal to ticketed passengers only and badged airport employees only. Exceptions will be made for those visitors who are assisting disabled passengers. No one else will be granted access.”

Hogan discouraged non-essential personnel from using public transportation.

‘No one, no one — should get on a MARC train, Metro, Amtrak train or bus or any of our transportation assets unless you are an emergency personnel, a front-line health care provider — or your job is essential to the supply chain.”

Hogan’s Thursday orders were preceded earlier in the week by orders that closed restaurants, bars, movie theaters,  gyms and casinos, and postponed Maryland’s primary elections from late April to early June.  Restaurants are still allowed to offer delivery and carry-out services. The postponement order does not apply to the special general election for the 7th congressional district. That election will still occur on April 28 but ballots will be cast by mail.

On Wednesday the Maryland General Assembly adjourned Sine Die due to concerns about the virus. The body had been scheduled to adjourn on Monday, April 6  — marking the first since the Civil War that the body adjourned prior to its scheduled date. Lawmakers plan to return at the end of May for a special session to address outstanding legislative business, according to Senate President Bill Ferguson.