The same week Prince George’s County implemented new restrictions amid a surge in coronavirus cases, the majority-Black jurisdiction will now impose a curfew at one of its most popular locations.
Starting Friday afternoon, no one 17 or younger will be allowed to hang out at National Harbor between 5 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays without a parent or guardian.
“We have had repeated issues at National Harbor with young people gathering in large crowds without masks, and due to the concerning rise in COVID-19 cases in our county and state, we are required to take this necessary action to limit the spread of the virus,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said in a statement Thursday night. “We must all continue to do our part to protect ourselves and our community, including wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands often, and avoiding large crowds.”
The parents and guardians of underage youths caught at the harbor unsupervised may be fined up to $1,000 or charged with a misdemeanor. A conviction could result in an increased fine of $5,000 or up to one year in jail, or both.
During a press conference last month, Alsobrooks said some business owners at National Harbor complained about hundreds of teenagers hanging out and partying at hotels. The county health department briefly shut down the Hampton Inn National Harbor and the AC Hotel National Harbor for “COVID-19 violations.”
Prince George’s County continues to lead the D.C. region and the state of Maryland with the most confirmed cases. As of Friday morning, the county has 37,814 cases and 883 related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to health department statistics.
The county is among several Maryland jurisdictions to tighten its coronavirus-related restrictions in recent weeks as case numbers spike statewide. Maryland has twice broken its record for the number of daily reported cases in the past week, including Thursday when it recorded 2,910 new cases. As of Friday, the state has 177,086 reported cases overall.
Prince George’s current restrictions instituted Sunday include indoor gatherings to one person per 200 square feet, and no more than 10 people.
Masks or face coverings are now required for all residents as soon as anyone steps outside, unless one is exercising.
Prince George’s County logged nearly 2,100 new cases last week, a 51 percent increase and the highest number of weekly cases since early May. The county’s positivity rate doubled to 8.5 percent from last month.
“Through interviews during our contact tracing investigations, we know most people who tested positive for COVID-19 have said they had recently attended large gatherings or parties,” Ernest Carter, the county’s health officer, said in a statement. “Therefore, we know COVID-19 is spreading due to people engaging in these high-risk activities and it needs to stop or more Prince Georgians will get sick or die.”