BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Council on Monday unanimously extended the city’s state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The state of emergency is now extended indefinitely. Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young first issued the state of emergency on March 18; state law requires the governing body to approve extending it past 30 days.
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Young announced the extension last week and the council reinforced his decision Monday, saying it was the best way to protect Baltimoreans.
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“The city council understands the importance of this at this moment,” council president Brandon Scott said, “and we will continue to be guided by the public health professionals and that’s how we will go out making our decisions.”
Last week, Young said extending the declaration “allows for us to cut through red tape and closely align our resources with our needs.”
The city council also adopted a bill prohibiting landlords from raising rent during and after declared emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When you don’t know where your next check is coming from, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not your landlord is raising your rent,” Scott said.
Council members also approved emergency legislation providing $3 million for distance learning for city students and additional funding for the city’s plan to reduce food insecurity.
As part of a public-private partnership, the city established a $5.5 million fund specifically for small businesses.
City councilman Leon Pinkett said he wants to make sure that local and minority-owned businesses specifically are supported during the pandemic.
“We know that oftentimes with emergency spending, local and minority businesses are left out. We just want to make certain that all of our businesses are included,” he said.
As of Monday, there are 1,933 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city.
The council also named Friday “Charm City Cheer Day.” They’re encouraging people to safely cheer on frontline workers at 7 p.m. from the comfort of their homes.