Some businesses which were required to close earlier will be allowed to reopen.
Frederick, Md (KM) Frederick County will enter Stage Two in the Governor’s Road Map to Recovery Plan.
During her public information briefing on Thursday, County Executive Jan Gardner announced that the county will allow certain businesses which were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic to reopen on Friday, June 5th at 5:00 PM. They include small and large retailers, specialty stores, banks and financial institutions. She says these businesses may reopen at 50% of capacity, with face coverings being worn by customers, clients and staff.
As they reopen, Gardner is encouraging these companies to put in safety protocols to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. “These recommendations suggest phasing in staff, working split shifts and modifying facilities to accommodate spacing,” she says. “Now these are certainly things we done already in county government, and I know a number of other businesses have one them as well.”
The County Executive also says personal services, such as nail salons and tanning salons, can reopen on Friday at 5:00 PM but a 50% of capacity, and by appointment only. Additional cleanings are required, and face coverings must be worn by anyone over the age of two.
These businesses were closed earlier this year by the Governor due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Gardner said the statistics on the infection of the coronavirus are trending in a favorable direction. She noted the rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 has dropped to 8.4%, and there have been declines in hospitalizations, especially in the use of acute care beds and intensive care units. The county is also making progress in its nursing homes, where infections rates are lower than anticipated. “Three weeks ago, we were just beginning an effort to test all the staff and residents in our nursing homes, and this has been an ongoing process. So we’re now seeing more testing of our nursing homes,” says Gardner.
Even though the statistics look good, the County Executive is reminding citizens not to let up prevention efforts as the COVID-19 virus is still widespread in the community. She said she will bring back the restrictions if the coronavirus statistics take an unfavorable turn. “So public health and welfare is my top priority. And I want people to know that I will take a step back if we need to do that, if we need to slow things down. Our metrics are good right now and we want to keep them this way.” Gardner says.
As part of her public information briefing on Thursday, County Executive Gardner took a stand on the death of George Floyd. “I stand with the people in our community and around our country to condemn the police brutality that took the life of George Floyd,” she said. “The senseless killing of George Floyd has exposed deep racial and socio-economic inequalities in America.”
And she said action needs to be taken. “It’s time to demand real change, to address systemic racism and insure the promise of our country to everyone, and that is justice and equality for all,” Gardner said.
A number of demonstrations against the death of George Floyd have been held around the country, some of which have turned violent. Gardner addressed that. “I support peaceful protest to raise awareness and to shine the light on racial injustice. But I do condemn violence which will distract from the cause of justice,” she said
The County Executive said now is the time to make changes. “As we’ve experienced before, sometimes with time, things fade and attention shifts away. It’s important that we seize this moment to create positive change in public policy, to enact broad policing and justice reform, to address longstanding issues in education to close the achievement gap and to advance racial equity,” says Gardner.
Earlier this year, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Gardner says she took a racial equity training course administered by the Associated Black Charities in Baltimore. She was planing to offer this training to other elected officials in Frederick County, along with the Board of Education an d Human Relations Commission. But that was put on hold with the Governor’s directive prohibiting gatherings of more than ten people. She hopes to offer this training after that prohibition is lifted.
By Kevin McManus