Prince George’s County restaurants, barbershops and salons can reopen next week, but with some restrictions, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Thursday.
Alsobrooks held a press conference to announce an “incremental reopening” for Monday, June 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic that includes the lifting of a stay-at-home order she issued May 14.
Based on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s recovery plan, Alsobrooks said four pillars allowed the county to begin taking steps to reopen: expand testing, contact tracing, increase supply of personal protective equipment and hospital surge capacity.
For instance, county data shows confirmed cases decreased from 2,370 on the week of April 26 to 2,321 the week of May 3 and 2,008 the week of May 10.
During those same intervals, total COVID-19 deaths were 71, 68 and 62.
“This has been a tough time, but I am really grateful and I want to say that Prince Georgians have done a great job,” Alsobrooks said. “I want to remind us also that we must continue to be vigilant. The coronavirus will be with us for a while. This is not yet over.”
Each business allowed to open should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The stipulations include:
– Restaurants can provide outdoor dining with six people at a table, with each table six feet apart, and employees must wear masks and gloves.
– Churches and houses of worship may allow 10 or fewer parishioners inside.
– Automated car washes may reopen, but customers must remain inside the vehicle.
– Employees returning to work at reopened businesses may take their children to child care centers.
As the county continues to lead the state with more than 14,000 confirmed cases, community centers, basketball courts, swimming pools and playgrounds will remain closed. The majority of basketball rims and nets have been removed from basketball courts at schools and properties managed by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
However, at least one basketball court remains intact at the Kings Grant townhouse development in Upper Marlboro.
Alsobrooks had a message for young people itching to play basketball.
“Young people are surviving COVID-19, although some are very sick from it,” she said. “This is about saving your mother, father and your grandparents’ lives. This is the time as a community there are certain rules to put in place so that we survive as a community.”
Meanwhile, County Council member Deni Taveras (D-District 2) of Adelphia expressed reservation about reopening the county, especially without a COVID-19 testing site in her district.
The zip code of 20783 has recorded the largest number of confirmed cases in the entire state. In addition, she oversees the county’s largest Latino population and the jurisdiction’s most densely populated area.
The state closed a vehicle emissions station in Hyattsville on Wednesday, but opened one Thursday in Clinton. Residents can also receive free testing at a converted site starting Friday at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro.
A testing site in Chillum, a neighborhood in Taveras’ district, plans to open Monday. It will be managed by the county’s Health Department.
“With all due respect, if my community were Mitchellville or Bowie, we wouldn’t have had this problem,” she said. “I think [state officials] are making a mistake by not addressing the high need in this district because a pandemic … affects us all. It’s not just a political enclave that is responsible to the governor. A pandemic affects every single person in society.”