UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJZ) — Prince George’s County officials said they will be ready to begin reopening starting on June 1 — including curbside retail, restaurants with outdoor seating and allowing barbershops and hair salons to operate by appointment only.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Thursday morning, the county now has the resources in place to start a phase 1 reopening and lift the stay-at-home order.

Prince George’s County had the highest number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Maryland over the span of the pandemic.

Several weeks ago, Alsobrooks said the county was reporting 70 COVID-19 deaths per week. But, county health officials say they are starting to see the declines needed to begin reopening.

“The truth is, and I know that Dr. Carter will tell you this is that the coronavirus will be with us for a while,” she said. “COVID-19 is still very present in our community and so we should be mindful that we have to still be careful cautious and vigilant. This is not yet over we are doing everything in our power to stop the spread of this virus in our community.”

She said the county’s testing capacity is up to 9,000 tests per week. They also have 150 contact tracers working to track the virus’ spread. The county will now have about 40% of its ICU beds available, at one point 80% of the county’s ICU beds were filled with patients.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

I want to thank Governor Hogan in the state, who did send to us 160,000 isolation gowns last week, and that includes an additional 40,000 that went directly to Doctors Hospital,” Alsobrooks said. “We’ve also we’ve now begun the distribution process for the remaining gowns, but we are comfortable that we have now been able to secure the amount of gowns that we need.”

Because of the steps forward, Alsobrooks said she’s ready to move the county forward — though she didn’t make the decision lightly.

Starting June 1, the following will be allowed in Prince George’s County:

  • Curbside retail: Customers must order items online and the items will be brought out to their car by a store employee.
  • Manufacturing businesses: Manufacturing will also reopen with appropriate social distancing use of PCP and following CDC guidelines on cleaning high contact surfaces and all employees must be trained on CDC COVID-19 guidance before returning to work.
  • Barbershops, hair salons: Barbershops and hair salons can reopen by appointment only. Shops can only have one customer per 200 square-feet. They also must wear masks or other PPE as needed. This includes face masks gloves for all employees and customers must also wear masks, along with appropriate floor markings to create adequate social distancing employees and salons will not be permitted to have clients waiting in a sitting area. All CDC guidelines for cleaning high use surfaces must also be adhere to.
  • Restaurants: Eateries with outdoor seating may reopen and there can be no more than six people seated at a table. Tables must be at least six feet apart and no more than 50 people will be allowed at any outdoor restaurant establishment, regardless of space. Employees again must receive health screenings prior to their shifts and all CDC guidelines must be adhered to. Additionally, all employees must wear face coverings and restaurants must have sanitizer hand sanitizer and appropriate hand washing facilities available. (Here’s some best practices from the state)
  • Farmers markets: Farmers markets can operate with carry-out only.
  • Car Washes: Automated car wash systems can be open, but drivers and passengers must remain inside their vehicles at all times.
  • Parks, golf courses and tennis courts: Some outdoor activities will be open, but must have social distancing measures in place.

Although many businesses are reopening, Alsobrooks didn’t open houses of worship.

Very soon we will announce that houses of worship can open for gatherings of 10 people or less, otherwise they must maintain their online services and will continue to give guidance as we move past phase one as to how we will operate,” she said. 

Alsobrooks also didn’t open basketball courts or playgrounds.

The county executive also announced she has created a Prince George’s County Forward task force to help reopen the county. Former Gov. Martin O’Malley is on the team.

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.

 

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