Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (right) speaks during a June 3 press conference in Annapolis to announce that the state will allow nonessential businesses to reopen this week amid the coronavirus pandemic. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (right) speaks during a June 3 press conference in Annapolis to announce that the state will allow nonessential businesses to reopen this week amid the coronavirus pandemic. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday the state will allow nonessential businesses to reopen this week after being shuttered for nearly three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, nail salons, tattoo parlors and tanning salons can open, but only operate at 50 percent capacity and by appointment.

Offices such as real estate, financial institutions and advertising and architectural firms “will all be open and operational in Maryland,” Hogan said.

By Monday, state agencies such as the Motor Vehicle Administration will reopen at select branches.

The reopenings are part of the second stage of the governor’s “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery” plan.

Face coverings are still encouraged for in-person interaction, Hogan said. In addition, he said business owners should implement a screening process such as temperature checks of employees, develop plans to shift schedules and rotate employee hours, or shorter workweeks.

“While we’re excited to get much of our economy restarted, I want to be very clear: just because Marylanders can return to the office doesn’t mean that they should,” he said. “Employees who can telework should continue teleworking whenever possible. Safety must remain a top priority for every single business in our state.”

Hogan released his recovery plan in April to begin a three-stage approach in reopening businesses after he issued a stay-at-home order. He began the first stage last month, allowing restaurants to provide outdoor dining, barbershops and salons to open by appointment only and churches and houses of worship to offer services with 10 or fewer people, and for people to resume outdoor activities.

For stage two, or “medium risk,” the recovery plan stipulates that businesses reopening during this period will need to comply with “strict physical distancing and appropriate masking requirements.”

Hogan said the state’s 23 counties and Baltimore City can implement the second phase to the recovery plan “at their discretion.”

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, Maryland has roughly 55,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, though Hogan pointed out that the state’s positivity test percentage rate has decreased into the single digits.

That figure for Prince George’s and Montgomery counties continues to be above the state average. Those two jurisdictions in the D.C. suburbs and others in the Baltimore area opened at a more relaxed pace because residents in those regions accumulated the highest number of confirmed cases in the state.

Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-District 21) said that while she is pleased each jurisdiction can decide when to reopening certain businesses, Hogan’s plan to move ahead is “too fast.”

As of Wednesday, Prince George’s recorded about 16,280 confirmed cases, the highest number in the state. In addition, the 20783 area code that represents the Hyattsville and Langley Park neighborhoods with a high Latino population has the most cases in Maryland.

“There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. I’m very concerned,” she said. “County Executive [Angela] Alsobrooks is doing it slowly and that is the way to do it. Why rush? We should have giving it more time.”

Hogan said the state has conducted 14,385 tests in the past 24 hours, surpassing its goal of 10,000 tests per day.

He said the state will exceed 400,000 tests by the end of the week, largely due to a partnership with the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine to convert a research lab into a full-scale testing lab with Korean machinery and cutting-edge robotics.

“This lab is fully operational and able to process tests many weeks ahead of schedule,” Hogan said. “This lab will be the backbone of our sustained, long-term testing strategy.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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