John E. Bailey IV will talk with his wife about only having immediate family at their Camp Springs home to celebrate Thanksgiving.
The reason remains simple: confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise in Prince George’s County, which continues to record the highest number in Maryland that exceeds 36,000 along with nearly 900 deaths.
That’s why the county instituted new restrictions, effective Sunday, Nov. 15, that limit density at indoor gatherings to one person per 200 square feet, or no more than 10 people.
Unless a person conducts rigorous exercising, masks and other face coverings are now required as soon as people step outside their home, business and other venues.
“If we don’t sacrifice now, we will sacrifice at some point,” Bailey said.
Health officials determined through contract tracing some of the highest risk activities include family gatherings, indoor dining, gyms and bowling alleys.
Indoor capacity at restaurants is now decreased from 50 percent to 25 percent. Grocery and specialty food stores and retail stores can operate at 50 percent with safety protocols in place such as social distancing and wearing masks. Some places also must have hand sanitizer stations.
Capacity at outdoor worship events was decreased by half from 250 to 125.
“It is time to hunker down,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said last week during a press conference at the county’s emergency operations center in Landover. “We are in the midst of another surge and based on the data our public health officials have gathered…we have found that gatherings indoors are very dangerous.”
Other higher populated jurisdictions in the Washington and Baltimore areas incorporated tighter restrictions, too, with capacity at indoor gatherings decreased from 75 percent to 50 percent capacity.
Indoor capacity at gyms, retail stores, houses of worship and restaurants in Montgomery County was limited to 25 percent capacity. Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited.
The same percentage for indoor operations at bars and restaurants will be in effect Friday, Nov. 20 in Anne Arundel County. Youth athletics were suspended in the county Monday, Nov. 16.
Both indoor and outdoor venues such as restaurants cannot exceed 25 percent in Baltimore City. In addition, all restaurants must close by 11 p.m. and no more than 10 people can congregate in a house.
All residents must follow the state order when visiting nursing homes. All visitors must get tested before they go see family and friends.
On Nov. 10, the state launched a new app for people to receive a notification if they might have been exposed to a person who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
Users of iPhones can go to settings and turn on exposure notifications and select Maryland as the region. Android users can search for the MD COVID app on Google Play.
For more information, go to https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/mdcovidalert.
The coronavirus restrictions were tightened on the verge of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
“As tough as that is, and I know it’s tough for you all to hear this, but the health department strongly recommends not attending or hosting holiday gatherings with people who are not in your immediate households,” said Ernest Carter, chief health officer in Prince George’s.
Carter suggested catching up with family and friends online through Zoom or other means of technology.
“Your loved ones will still love you. I know mine do,” he said.