TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, Maryland is stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions during a time when people usually gather and socialize.

Maryland is launching a COVID-19 compliance team to further enforce these restrictions as cases continue to surge in the state and have no sign of letting up.

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Marcus Johnson has been making the rounds at businesses all across Towson and the rest of Baltimore County for the last eight months.


He’s director of the county’s social distancing task force that’s making sure everyone is following the COVID-19 state and local executive orders.

“We’re basically enforcing the mask the facial covering requirements as well as try to encourage the social distancing I all types of establishments,” he said.

The task force has conducted more than 7,000 inspections and has found more than 300 violations.

They give out warnings to businesses that aren’t following the orders, then citations and fines to repeated offenders.

Now, they’re beefing up staffing and getting out more as Thanksgiving approaches.

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“Anywhere throughout the county we’re going to be out, so although we may have additional personnel in certain areas, the task force will 100 percent be out throughout the holiday season,” Johnson said.

Maryland State Police will also be out working with Baltimore County Police in high visibility compliance units focusing on bars, restaurants and other places where people gather.

On York Road, The Real Thing owner, Tony, said he finds the inspections to be useful.

“Really helpful for everybody, safe for customers, safe for me and it is safe for society,” he said.

Barley’s Backyard Uptown co-owner Jill Packo said she’s gotten used to the regular check-ins and just wants to stay open.

“The majority of the restaurants are really trying hard to abide by the guidelines,” she said. “None of us want to get closed down as we did in March.”

The stepping of enforcement kicks off Wednesday and continues throughout the holiday.

The social distancing task force in Baltimore County is also hiring and is looking for people to help out. It pays $25 an hour. For more information, please click here.

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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.

Stetson Miller