Frederick County’s Economy Opens Up A Little

County Executive says barbershops, hair salons & churches can reopen with restrictions.

Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick County’s economy is reopening a little more. During her public information briefing on Thursday, County Executive Jan Gardner announced an executive order that barbershops and hair salons can reopen starting on Friday, May 29th at 5:00 PM. She says they can only operate at 50% of capacity;  provide additional clearing and sanitation, customers are served by appointment only and face masks are to be worn by customers and employees.

“And in addition, in my executive order, I added another requirement that there is an establishment of morning hours for seniors and other vulnerable residents first thing in the day. to reduce their risk from the spread of the virus and make sure that we take care of them in a special way  because they are our most at risk community members,” says Gardner.

She also announced that houses of worship may start holding indoor services, but only at 50% of capacity; everyone wears face coverings; the churches practice social distancing of six feet, and that there be a maximum of 250 people.

But Gardner said she has concerns about so many people gathering in one place. “So I really want to encourage every pastor and every religious organization to take special care to consider delaying opening I know some larger denominations are doing that. And take precautions, particularly to encourage elderly and people with health conditions to continue to participate virtually,” she says.

Gardner says she is taking these actions to bring the county in line with Governor Larry Hogan’s directive on Wednesday to enter stage two of “Road map to Recovery.” She says progress has been made in Frederick County when it comes to securing personal protective equipment for health care providers,including N-95 masks and gowns;  along with surge capacity at the local hospital in case a large number patients enter with COVID-19; testing for the coronavirus; and contact tracing.

“We are not returning to normal. We’re striving to have a new modified way of living and working and conducting our daily lives so we can stay healthy, restore our economy and protect those who are most vulnerable,” she says.

At that same public information briefing, Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor announced that the city is also adopting the Governor’s Stage One Recovery plan in full as of 5:00 PM on Friday, May 29th. In a statement, he says the decision  for the city of Frederick was based on healthcare data.

Mayor O’Connor also said at 5:00 PM on Friday, the city will allow restaurants with outdoor seating,  such as balconies, patios and sidewalk areas,  to begin serving meals outside to patrons.

County Executive Gardner said the County will be taking action to allow restaurants in the county  which have outdoor seating to begin serving meals outdoors. Bu she acknowlefdgs some establishments which have outdoor dining facilities may want to expand.  :”So anticipating that, the county Permitting  and Planning staff developed a temporary permit to accommodate outdoor dining that may allow expansion into adjoining areas, potentially parking areas, for instance,”:she said. The permit is free, but applicants will need to show how they intend to use this additional space. The permit will expire when the state of emergency is lifted.


Fire Companies


Also at the briefing, the County Executive announced that some financial assistance is coming to local fire companies who are having a difficult time meeting expenses. She said the county will set aside $2-million from the federal CARES Act to help fire companies pay for the expenses, such as the mortgage on their fire halls, payments on their apparatus, and any coronavirus-related costs such as cleaning and disinfecting, and purchasing personal protective equipment.

“We know it’s become a challenge because fundraising activities and summer carnivals are not going to happen this summer,” say Gardner.

Fire companies sponsor these events, such as carnivals, where they raise money to pay their expenses. But they have been canceled due to the COVID-19 virus, and the prohibition against people gathering in groups of more than ten.

Gardner says the county’s finance department and Chief of the Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Kevin Fox, are working on the details of the plan. She says a memorandum of understanding will be sent out to each fire company. “And money will be set aside for each company that can be tapped into  for certain expenses and that quality for reimbursement,” she says.

The County Executive reminded each of the county’s 25 volunteer fire companies to watch for the MOU.

“The volunteer fire and rescue companies are important to the continued and ongoing delivery of an essential service to people in our community that they need every day, and particularly during this health crisis,”: says Gardner.


By Kevin McManus