MARYLAND (WMAL) – Daily life for Marylanders is changing drastically. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order that all non-essential businesses, organizations and establishments in the state must close at 5 p.m. Monday.
“Let me be clear, we are not issuing or ordering a shelter in place directive or forcing people to stay home,” Hogan said.
However, Hogan said unless people have an essential reason to leave their houses – like going to a pharmacy or grocery store – they should stay home. They also must follow the state law banning crowds of more than ten people, and should practice social distancing.
He said the closures are necessary to protect the health of Marylanders and to save lives. The order came after he saw people going to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossom trees over the weekend as well as to beaches and other crowded public places.
“While we are fighting this unprecedented worldwide pandemic, at the same time, we’re also facing another huge battle against the potential of tremendous economic harm,” Hogan said.
It is necessary to fight both of these challenges aggressively and simultaneously, Hogan said during a Monday press conference.
As the chair of the National Governor’s Association, Hogan said he is pressing the federal government to give states more help. While he appreciates what they have gotten so far, he said the states need more. In the meantime, Maryland will take actions of its own to help struggling businesses and workers.
Thursday Hogan signed emergency legislation into law that allows people to collect unemployment insurance if the businesses they work for have been closed because of the pandemic, they have been laid off, or they have been quarantined or a family member has been. He said there is no waiting period, so people can apply immediately.
Thursday they also got a state-wide disaster declaration from the Small Business Association so small businesses in the state can immediately apply for low-interest federal disaster loans to help cover costs including payroll with long-term payments stretching up to 30 years.
Monday, Hogan added, the state launched a $175 million comprehensive business relief package to help hard-pressed Marylanders and small businesses get through this period.
Monday the state also launched the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund to help small businesses retain employees. Hogan said as of Monday an additional $7 million is available to help small businesses retain employees during the crisis. They can apply for up to $50,000 in flexible funding to help maintain operations and keep employees on the payroll.
Through the Maryland Department of Commerce, Monday the state also introduced the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Fund. Hogan said the $75 million fund will provide working capital to small businesses and non-profits with fewer than 50 employees that have lost revenue because of the pandemic. The funds can be used to pay employees, suppliers, rent and critical operating costs to help them state in business.
The state is also establishing a $50 million Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund that will provide direct immediate grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses that have lost revenue due to the Coronavirus.
Hogan said the state is also immediately developing a $5 million fund to provide incentives to Maryland small businesses to manufacture masks, personal protective equipment and other supplies to immediately help meet the critical demands of the state’s healthcare workers.
Hogan thanked small businesses who have had to close their doors. He said while the actions are incredibly difficult financially, they will save the lives of thousands of Marylanders.
He offered this message to small businesses: “We will have your backs in the weeks ahead, and we will do everything we can to help get you back on your feet and to help all of your employees recover.”
Hogan acknowledged this is difficult for every Marylander with many afraid and anxious.
While nobody knows how bad it will get or how long it will last, Hogan assured Marylanders that there are many dedicated people working around the clock and doing their best to keep residents safe.
“And we are all in this together, and we will, together we will get through this,” Hogan said.
Hogan’s administration put out the following links for more information about today’s announcements:
For business resources, click here.
For interpretive guidance for businesses, click here.
Federal guidelines for essential/non-essential designation, click here.
Copyright 2020 by WMAL.com. All Rights Reserved. Photo Gov. Larry Hogan via You Tube