BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The coronavirus is forcing small businesses across the state to get creative to keep their customers happy and their doors open.

Gov. Larry Hogan ordered bars, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to close to the public to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Despite the challenges, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is urging Marylanders to support local businesses.

If you’re a local business and want a shoutout, tweet at us using #BeOnWJZ with a photo of your menu or a link and info on your hours and we’ll RT you. You can also tag us on Instagram. 

“Local businesses are the beating heart of our state’s economy and the backbone of our communities,” Franchot said in a news release. “They are being decimated through no fault of their own, leaving their survival and the fate of the tens of thousands of Marylanders they employ — as well as their families — in jeopardy. We have to pull together and help them keep the lights on during this period of deep uncertainty and loss.”

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Here are some ways you can support small businesses in Maryland.

Shop Local.

It’s easier to shop at big box stores, but many have run out of items as shoppers hoard toilet paper, meat and cleaners. Many small businesses — like grocery stores, local pharmacies and even bodegas in Baltimore City have the essential items but don’t see as much foot traffic. Help them, help you find what you need.

Buy Giftcards.

Yes, officials are saying staying home will help spread the coronavirus. So one thing you can do is purchase gifts cards. Many businesses offer the purchase of gift cards on their websites or you can just stop in and buy one from your favorite restaurant or store.

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Visit Annapolis will match the amount of any gift card for a local restaurant purchased before March 20 until they reach their $2,000 goal. To qualify, take a photo of the gift card, post it to Facebook or Instagram using #DineAnnapolis and tag @VisitAnnapolis. Visit Annapolis will then send you a message with more details.

Get Carry-out.

Although the bars and restaurants are closed to the public, many are still offering carry-out services. For some it’s a more truncated menu, others are offering everything on their normal menu.

The city of Frederick and the Downtown Frederick Partnership are creating “curbside pickup parking zones” for customers who want to order carryout food from downtown restaurants. Customers will be able to park in the spaces for free for up to 10 minutes to pick up their food.

Order Delivery.

Many restaurants teamed up with delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash to switching to offering takeout, businesses are making drastic changes to their operations.

Donate To A Virtual Tip Jar.

Many of your favorite bartenders and waitresses’s livelihood is based on tips. So neighbors have created a virtual tip jar for those people. Check your local neighborhood page for information about your local watering holes.


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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.