TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — As coronavirus cases are on the rise around Maryland, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced stricter restrictions Friday for residents in order to help deter COVID-19 spread.
“For the past eight months, and for what has seemed like a lifetime for so many of us, we have collectively faced and continue to face what may end up being the most challenging period of our lives,” Olszewski said.READ MORE: Shooting Leaves One In Critical Condition
As of Nov. 13, Baltimore County has reported a total of 23,682 COVID-19 cases and 667 deaths. The case rate has increased by 150% since late October, he said, and the number of hospitalizations are the highest they’ve been in five months.
“As this pandemic has progressed I have grown weary. It’s clear that we have all grown weary. We want to be with our friends and family. We want to give our children a sense of normalcy. We want to go back to the way things used to be,” the county executive said. “But this virus has not grown weary and it thrives when we are weary, it thrives when we let our guard down — other parts of the country have let their guard down.”
In order to help deter the spread, the county executive announced several new restrictions. Here’s what’s changing in Baltimore County effective 5 p.m. Sunday:
- All gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. This does not apply to restaurants, businesses and churches, etc. who are complying with the governor’s 50% order.
- Bars and restaurants are required to close at midnight.
- Masks continue to be required in all public spaces indoors and required outdoors when you cannot social distance for anyone ages 5 and up. There are very few exceptions to this order.
- All recreational youth sports will be prohibited until further notice as of Tuesday, Nov. 17.
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Olszewski said the county’s social distancing taskforce, which is already conducted over 5,200 proactive and complaint driven inspections, will further ramp up enforcement efforts.
“This is not to make life difficult for any resident or business,” he said. “It is to save lives and to keep our businesses open. The new gathering orders apply to social gatherings like parties, concerts, weddings, fundraisers and other similar events. They do not apply to restaurants, businesses, private schools, childcare and other establishments where existing, specific state orders are already in place.”READ MORE: COVID-19 In Maryland: Over 1.4K New Cases Reported, 11 New Deaths
“Orders that like the mask order will be more strictly enforced in the days and weeks ahead,” Olszewski added.
The county executive said they issued new orders “because the science is very clear: masks and social distancing works.”
According to county officials, the new order is a good reminder to both patrons and establishments that in addition to mask requirements, people are not supposed to be standing at bars — they’re supposed to be seated six feet apart from each other.
“Now we’re being pushed inside (due to colder weather), it’s particularly important that we double down, do the right thing,” Olszewski added. “Keep our neighbor safe; keep our businesses open. We are at a crisis point. We don’t want to have to make additional restrictions. We want to keep people safe though; we want to keep people in their jobs and employed. So we hope that people take this seriously, they follow these actions, so that we don’t have to take additional actions in the days and weeks ahead.”
County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch announced one of the latest to die from coronavirus in Baltimore County was a teen with preexisting conditions.
“As it relates to our young folks going back to school, we definitely see an increase in our youngsters, getting covid-19,” Branch said. “We have not seen an increase in the Baltimore County in the hospitalizations of our young folks, but we have had another a death of a young person because of COVID-19.”
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