Since the middle of March and as recently as last week, Gov. Larry Hogan and County Executive Jan Gardner have issued executive orders determining what businesses may remain open and which must close, along with prohibiting large gatherings of people and other activities.
But the recent orders from the state, county and some municipalities differ in ways, leaving residents confused as to what is or is not allowed. We answered some of the most common questions being asked based on prior reporting and the executive orders from Hogan and Gardner.
Can I go visit my family and friends at their homes?
As long as the gathering is under 10 people, this is allowed. Medical experts have advised social distancing and wearing masks in order to protect your friends and loved ones. But you are allowed to visit others, as long as you are aware and practice good public health protocols.
Can I open my gym in Frederick County?
No. Not in the sense of opening your indoor gym for full-fledged operations. But Gov. Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery does allow for small outdoor gym and fitness classes, given social distancing measures are in place. Classes are to have no more than 10 people in them.
Can I open my restaurant in Brunswick?
Carryout and delivery options are still allowed, but sit-down dining is not permitted at this point under Hogan’s executive orders. It’s likely restaurants and bars will open as one of the last phases of Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery, and social distancing and occupancy limits will be established in order to prevent large crowds one might typically see at those businesses.
Is there any place in Frederick County I can sit down and eat?
The short answer is no. Local municipalities and the governor’s office are exploring the possibility of allowing outdoor/patio seating, beginning in the latter stages of the Roadmap to Recovery. Then, when indoor dining is allowed, there will likely be occupancy requirements, much like Gardner’s requirements allowing small businesses under 10,000 square feet to open, but with 50 percent occupancy.
Are drive-in religious services allowed?
Yes, given social distancing guidelines are in place. Officials at churches and other religious establishments will likely make their own decisions about how to ensure that, so contact your local institution to see how they are carrying out their services right now. Some may prefer to continue video services and worship, while others allow drive-in services.
Retail is allowed to open, right? Can I go shopping downtown?
According to Gardner’s executive order, small businesses under 10,000 square feet in size can open, given they have someone monitor the front door to keep track of people coming and going. Stores must adhere to the 50 percent occupancy rule, and social distancing must be practiced. Also, face masks/coverings must be worn, and cash payment should be minimized.
An important caveat to those measures is business owners may still decide to remain closed, depending on what they offer. Make sure to call businesses you plan to visit to check this.
I need a haircut desperately. How can I get this done in Frederick County? Can any of them open?
According to Gardner’s order, not until 5 p.m. on May 29. But some municipalities, like Brunswick, are deciding to follow Gov. Hogan’s orders, which allow for barbershops and salons to open to the general public, given social distancing and other health protocols are followed.
Call your local elected officials and barbershops/salons to see if they’re open. If less than 10 people can be in the shop at one time, they may open. But again, that depends on decisions local elected leaders make.
My town is following the governor’s orders, not the county executive’s. What’s the difference and whose guidelines should I follow?
Some differences, at this point, is the county executive is not permitting churches, barbershops and salons to open until May 29, given health metrics continue to trend in the right direction (coronavirus hospitalizations, intensive care unit bed use, acute care bed use and deaths). Small businesses are largely allowed to open at least in some capacity under both the governor and Gardner’s orders.
Municipalities across the county have the local authority to decide whether to follow Hogan’s or Gardner’s orders. So whatever decision your local town board or council makes is the one you should follow.
My business is in or serves two or more counties. Whose orders should I be following regarding whether or not I can reopen?
The simple answer is, it depends on what county your business is physically in. For businesses in Mount Airy, if it’s in Frederick County, then it’s Gardner’s executive order. If in Carroll County, then it’s Gov. Hogan’s orders, given Carroll County’s Board of Commissioners recently said they’re following the governor’s lead.
But again, local municipal officials have the ability to set their own rules and decide which orders to follow regarding the reopening of businesses. Contact them for more information.
Do I still need to wear a mask and socially distance in public, outdoors?
People should continue to socially distance outdoors, especially in high-traffic areas like parks, shopping centers and other places where a high number of people might be walking.
Wearing a mask at outdoor public places (parks, walking downtown, etc.) is not required, but is encouraged. A lot is still not known about this novel coronavirus, but many medical officials agree it is a respiratory disease, easily spread through respiratory droplets from person to person. Many of those officials believe a mask might not protect yourself as much, but it could protect others and stop the spread of the virus if you have it.