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Bobby Hand Jr. remains in awe that he and his wife run a small business in Prince George’s County named after their daughter.
Although Brookiegirl Bath + Body Care at National Harbor closed its doors March 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Black-owned operation continues to sell scented body wash, hand sanitizers and other products online.
Brookiegirl welcomed customers back Saturday, June 13 to showcase and market its natural items curbside. The business established about two years ago joined dozens of others to open their doors this week as Prince George’s moved into a modified phase two operation that allows nonessential industries, personal services and more outdoor activities to resume.
“We’ve been in the DMV since 2000. I’ve been here longer than I grew up in Albany, Georgia,” said Hand, chief operating officer for Brookiegirl. “We got our [place of worship] at Fort Washington Baptist Church. Our kids are DMV through and through. We have great employees. We have great customers. I love it here.”
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks pushes a similar mantra as the majority-Black jurisdiction’s biggest cheerleader. However, Alsobrooks warned the novel coronavirus hasn’t subsided as the county continues to record the most confirmed cases in Maryland with more than 18,000 and exceeding 600 deaths.
“As we recover from this virus and adjust to our new normal, I want to remind all Prince Georgians that we must continue to take certain precautions to protect ourselves and others, including wearing face coverings and practicing physical distancing,” she said in a mass text message Friday. “Thank you so much and please continue to stay safe.”
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talked about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on ABC’s “Powerhouse and Politics.”
Fauci offered a warning Friday to some state officials quick to reopen its economy must also remain cautious. Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard shows the United States leads the world with the most confirmed cases at more than two million.
“Whenever you loosen mitigation, you can expect you’ll see new infections. I think it would be unrealistic to think that you won’t,” he said. “The critical issue is how do you prevent those new infections that you see from all of a sudden emerging into something that is a spike. That’s the thing that we hope we’ll be able to contain, but time is going to tell in the next few weeks.”
In reference to nationwide protests against police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and President Donald Trump pledging to hold large campaign rallies, Fauci called it “risky” for people to congregate in close proximity during a health crisis.
“My advice and pleading with them would be if you feel you must do that, please make sure you wear a mask at all times,” he said.
The Prince George’s executive order officially went into effect Monday, June 15. It requires restaurant and retail workers to wear masks and face coverings. Residents must wear them in stores and on public transportation.
Other edicts of the order:
– Retail stores, barbershops and nail salons cannot exceed 50 percent capacity.
– Restaurants can provide indoor dining with no more than six people seated at a table and each table must be separated by at least six feet.
– Employees returning to work at nonessential businesses can enroll their children in child care centers.
– Places of worship can host gatherings not to exceed 25 percent capacity, conduct outdoor services with no more than 250 people through social distancing measures, or continue online and “drive-in” services.
The order permits outdoor youth sports activities to resume in small groups with no more than nine children and one coach and no more than 50 people in one area.
The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation released a notice Friday that “athletic fields and courts remain closed until further notice for sports such as baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, kickball, softball and soccer.”
Outdoor public and private pools can open, but only at 25 percent capacity and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Indoor pools will remain closed.
One of the county’s biggest businesses, MGM casino resort at National Harbor, will remain closed.
Also, enclosed shopping malls, gyms, fitness centers, spas and tattoo parlors will not reopen during this modified second phase.
In the meantime, Brookiegirl will “happily” accept returning and new customers, operating with a team of about seven employees. The business with double the number of employees at its Annapolis Mall location in neighboring Anne Arundel County may reopen in a few weeks.
There are plans to open a third store in Northern Virginia this year.
“It’s our goal to provide the community with a community-based product. We make it a point you are going to have a good interaction with our associates,” said Hand, chief operating officer. “I want you to enjoy this experience. This may be the day you need someone to say a positive word to you, especially with what’s going on today.”