Guest blog: Best practices for stage one of reopening Maryland

Blog post by Kelly M. Schulz

Kelly M. Schulz brings a wealth of knowledge to the Maryland Department of Commerce from her years of experience working in the government, in the private sector and as a small business owner. She had previously served as the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) since her confirmation in February 2015 and is also a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates. She was appointed Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce in January 2019.

 

At the end of last month, Governor Hogan announced that Maryland was further easing restrictions adopted to slow the spread of COVID-19 to complete Stage One of Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery. This means that after months of self-quarantine, social distancing, isolating at home, Maryland successfully took its first, cautious steps toward re-opening.

We are far from returning to normal; the virus is still with us, and Marylanders will need to remain vigilant and adhere to new rules to ensure there isn’t a resurgence of new COVID-19 infections. But for the first time in months (and subject to new restrictions–such as limited capacity), retail stores can open; we can go to church; and we can get our hair cut.

As of May 29, we can also eat at restaurants, go to the swimming pool, and our children can play sports and go to day camp again. But there are critical things to remember as we do:

If we continue to make good progress across the state, and if our hospitalization and intensive-care admissions continue to fall, we will soon be able to move into Stage Two of the Roadmap to Recovery, which will include lifting the order restricting operations by non-essential businesses.

One thing that we all need to do to make sure we don’t jeopardize the progress Maryland has made in fighting this pandemic is to continue wearing our masks and face coverings. Remember, the executive order on masks is still in effect; your face must be covered when you’re in a retail establishment or on public transportation.

In fact, it’s still a good idea to bring a mask anytime you leave the house. It doesn’t need to be fancy, a simple cloth that covers your nose and mouth is fine. It won’t hurt to wear it at the drive through, for example, or to keep on in your pocket when you take a walk or bike ride, just in case you end up stopping to talk to someone.

For businesses, please remember that children under two and people with disabilities that make it difficult to wear a mask do NOT need to wear them. And if you encounter someone in your business who isn’t wearing a mask, you are NOT permitted to interrogate them or demand proof that they can’t wear it.

Just do your best to accommodate them with curbside service, delivery, or offering to retrieve their items for them to limit their exposure in the store.

I’ve believed since this pandemic began that Marylanders would get through it by working together and looking out for one another. Now, we’ve taken our first crucial steps toward reopening together. There is a lot of work still ahead of us, but I have never felt prouder or more confident in our state and our business community.

We can do this. We’ve come so far already.


Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.

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