ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Dozens rallied in downtown Annapolis Saturday, calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to remove some restrictions the state has put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Protesters drove through the city’s downtown with signs and flags calling for Maryland to be “re-opened” and for restrictions on everything from boating to attending church services to be lifted or modified.
Those at the rally said they’re frustrated with the mass shutdowns of major aspects of everyday life.
“It’s time to get out and breathe fresh air and to start building up our immune system,” protester Ruth Brown said.
She added the restrictions have hit her family hard.
“My son-in-law may lose his business,” she said. “It’s closed and I’m very concerned about all that.”
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The event was organized by a group called Reopen Maryland. According to its change.org petition, the group wants Hogan to, “hear his constituents and immediately begin the responsible reopening of our state.”
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The petition reads in part:
“We acknowledge the tragedy caused by COVID-19 and appreciate that it is a significant public health concern. However, the economic, social and educational disruption caused by shutdowns is guaranteed to cause significant, even greater, harm, leading to increased deaths, economic disruption, loss of livelihood, and educational challenges for Marylanders and their families, and far less disruptive means of managing the disease can be employed.”
“The businesses, the businesses they just got to open, and if they only let five (people) in at a time or whatever, they want people to stay safe and they want their employees to stay safe,” protester Katrina Venuto, a nurse, said.
Restrictions like those should be made at a smaller scale and not by the state government, she said.
“It’s so sad to see all these small businesses being shuttered and I think it’s a decision for a personal business if they can open safely or not,” she said.
The governor has said the number of cases in the state is still rising and the state is not quite ready to reopen just yet.
A spokesperson for Hogan said the event was peaceful and no arrests were made despite the governor’s order prohibiting large gatherings.
The Maryland Capitol Police worked alongside various police agencies to provide traffic control and ensure an orderly demonstration at today’s rally in Annapolis. The demonstration was peaceful and there were no arrests.
Thank you to the Capitol Police for keeping people safe.
— Mike Ricci (@riccimike) April 18, 2020
As of Saturday morning, state health officials reported at least 12,300 cases of COVID-19 in Maryland and 463 deaths from the virus.