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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates and Guidance

The County is taking a number of actions to keep residents safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Find status information for County operations and services.

Baltimore County News

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Keyword: pandemic

Baltimore County Requires Face Coverings in Indoor Spaces, Calls on Governor Hogan to Revisit Indoor Dining and Bars Statewide

As jurisdictions in Maryland and across the country see increasing COVID-19 cases, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced today that Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch has issued a new public health order requiring all individuals ages 2 and over to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces, and also strongly encouraging residents to wear face coverings in outdoor public spaces wherever six-foot social distancing is not possible.

This new public health advisory supplements existing state orders (PDF), which currently require residents to wear masks in some indoor locations.

“The advice of scientific experts is clear: face coverings work. This commonsense step will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “I want to thank our neighbors and businesses who continue to take the necessary steps to keep our loved ones safe. We must all do our part, or we risk jeopardizing the progress we’ve made together.”

Despite current prevention measures, Baltimore County is experiencing the highest seven-day average of 97 community cases per day—exceeding the previous peak of 94 cases per day over a seven-day period in May. Meanwhile, Baltimore County’s positivity rate has increased since July 7 to 5.92 percent, demonstrating continued community transmission of COVID-19. On Sunday, Maryland saw the largest number of cases reported in a single day in nearly two months.

CDC guidance has demonstrated the effectiveness of face coverings in preventing transmission of COVID-19 by symptomatic, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. The suppression of COVID-19 will be critical in supporting future school reopening, continuing Baltimore County’s economic recovery, and safeguarding public safety.

“Our fight against this virus is not over. Without a vaccine or a cure we must continue to follow the science and the evidence which shows that face coverings—paired with social distancing and avoiding large gatherings—can slow the spread of this disease,” said Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. “Our data is beginning to show initial troubling signs. To keep us from losing ground, we must act now.”

Face Covering Requirements

Beginning Thursday, July 23 at 9 a.m., Baltimore County residents ages 2 and up will be required to wear face coverings in any indoor business, service, organization, or establishment that serves the general public. This includes, but is not limited to, retail establishments, recreational establishments, houses of worship, and other locations open to the public.

Residents are strongly encouraged to wear masks in outdoor public areas where social distancing of at least six-feet is not possible.

Individuals will not be required to wear a mask if:

  • Eating or drinking while seated at food service establishments. In accordance with Governor Hogan’s orders, face coverings are still required when otherwise moving in or about a restaurant or bar premises.
  • A face covering cannot be worn due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability.

County to Swiftly Act to Protect Health

Additionally, under the order issued today, the Baltimore County Health Officer may also issue a warning, modify operations, or immediately shut down any business or place of assembly that presents an immediate threat to public health or demonstrates unreasonable risk of exacerbating the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve focused on education before enforcement with our business community, because we understand how hard they have been hit by this pandemic. While the vast majority are doing their part, we will do whatever is necessary to protect the health and safety of our people,” Olszewski added.

Olszewski Calls on Hogan to Reconsider Indoor Dining

Following nationwide COVID-19 spikes, over a dozen other states or localities have taken steps to re-close bars and restaurants. County officials noted that, similar to statewide trends, young people now account for the majority of cases. Over the past three days, 53 percent of Baltimore County cases are residents under the age of 35.

County Executive Olszewski today called on Governor Hogan to limit bars and food service establishments to outdoor dining and takeout or delivery service.

“Maryland’s increasing case numbers are troubling and public health officials have consistently warned us about how indoor dining and congregating in bars can play a significant role of increased COVID-19 case counts. We have also seen that patchwork approaches to determining which businesses should be opened don’t work. I urge Governor Hogan to reengage with local leaders so that we can work in partnership to take statewide action to protect public health and save lives.”


Meals Kits To Be Distributed at Seven BCPL Locations Around the County

Baltimore County today announced a new partnership with Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) and the Maryland Food Bank to provide additional summer meals for youth at seven BCPL locations around the County. This program will complement existing food distribution efforts across Baltimore County.

Beginning Monday, July 20, the Maryland Food Bank will set up sites outside of designated BCPL branches and offer meal kits to youth 18 years of age and younger. Kits will include four to six breakfasts and lunches and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Youth Summer Meals will be available at the below locations during specified days and times:

Arbutus Branch
855 Sulphur Spring Road, Arbutus, Maryland 21227
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3 p.m.

Essex Branch
1110 Eastern Boulevard, Essex, Maryland 21221
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3 p.m.

Hereford Branch
16940 York Road, Hereford, Maryland 21111
Mondays and Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

Lansdowne Branch
500 3rd Avenue, Lansdowne, Maryland 21227
Mondays and Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

North Point Branch
1716 Merritt Boulevard, Dundalk, Maryland 21222
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4 p.m.

Randallstown Branch
8604 Liberty Road, Randallstown, Maryland 21133
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3 p.m.

Woodlawn Branch
1811 Woodlawn Drive, Woodlawn, Maryland 21207
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4 p.m.

Supporting Food Access During the Pandemic

This is the latest effort from Baltimore County to support food access during the pandemic.

Since March, Baltimore County and Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) have provided over four million meals.

Baltimore County, with support from multiple agencies and regional partners, continues to offer food distribution for families on Saturdays at sites across the County. The Baltimore County Department of Aging continues to provide boxes of food to the County’s older adults at designated senior center locations. Through its annual summer meals program, the BCPS Office of Food and Nutrition Services is providing meals for youth 18 years of age and younger (PDF) at over 80 locations.

Residents should check the County’s Food Resources page regularly for updates.

Food insecure residents can find the location nearest them using Baltimore County’s Food Distribution Sites Map.

Residents with questions or who need assistance with food access can call 410-887-2594 or email food@baltimorecountymd.gov.

Seniors, or individuals contacting us on behalf of a senior with food access needs, can call 410-887-2594 or email aginginfo@baltimorecountymd.gov.


Baltimore County Takes Next Steps to Reopen, Align with State Protocols while Promoting Public Health Measures to Minimize Spread of COVID-19 

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced that Baltimore County will be moving into the State of Maryland’s complete stage one.

“Having made significant progress in the availability of testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment, we are prepared to take the next steps in safely reopening our economy. As we align with phase one of Maryland’s reopening, we remind residents to continue practicing social distancing and encourage those who are high risk to stay at home,” Olszewski said. “Moving forward, we’ll continue to make decisions based on the best information available and in the best interest of our residents.” 

County Executive Olszewski will issue an executive order tomorrow stating that effective Friday, May 29, at 5 p.m., Baltimore County will take the following actions: 

Outdoor Dining

Restaurants and social organizations, including American Legions, VFWs, and Elks Clubs may begin to safely reopen for outdoor dining only. All establishments must follow strict public health requirements consistent with the CDC, FDA, and the National Restaurant Association guidelines. 

In accordance with state protocols (PDF), restaurants must: 

  • Ensure patrons are appropriately distanced with no more than six people seated at a table, with the exception of members of the same household.
  • Ensure patrons are seated at least six feet away from each other, except for households seated together.
  • Use single-use disposable paper menus or sanitize reusable menus between each seating.
  • Sanitize outdoor tables and chairs between each customer seating.
  • Train staff in current COVID-19 health and workplace guidelines.
  • Begin screening procedures including daily temperature checks of all staff.
  • Ensure staff wear masks or face coverings when interacting with other employees or patrons.

Baltimore County Temporarily Offering Conditional Approval for Expanded Outdoor Table Service

Restaurants already permitted for outdoor seating, may open in accordance with state guidance and restrictions. 

To help ensure other County restaurants can open as quickly as possible, Baltimore County will be temporarily offering conditional approval for establishments to provide expanded outdoor table service on their premises. 

Beginning tomorrow at 9 a.m., establishments can apply for outdoor table service at baltimorecountymd.gov/outdoortables. The County will conditionally approve all applications upon submission, until further notice. Businesses must still follow all requirements of applicable Executive Orders, and requirements and guidance issued by local, state and federal authorities. 

This temporary waiver of prior approval does not apply to the Tent Permit. For safety reasons, all tents must be approved in advance and businesses must have a valid tent permit prior to erecting tents or canopies. 

Baltimore County will continue to work with communities to identify alternative and creative models including closing of streets and expanding into parking lots and public outdoor spaces and will announce next steps in the coming days.

Drive-In Movie Theaters

Drive-in movie theaters may reopen with appropriate health and safety guidelines. Olszewski had previously called on the state of Maryland to allow Bengie’s Drive-in to reopen. 

Youth Sports

In line with the state guidance, outdoor youth sports may resume, following all appropriate CDC guidelines and state requirements (PDF).

Youth Day Camps 

Outdoor activities at youth day camps may resume in line with state requirements and guidance (PDF).

Outdoor Pools 

Outdoor pools may reopen with strict safety guidelines and in line with state requirements (PDF).

Additionally, County Executive Olszewski announced today that Baltimore County will align other requirements for retail, houses of worship, and barbershops with current state thresholds:

Retail Stores

Retail stores will be able to further reopen for in-store retail up to 50 percent capacity, including staff. This applies to all retail establishments outside of those considered essential under the state’s orders. Curbside pickup and delivery remain strongly encouraged, and all public health precautions should remain in place. Shopping malls must continue to stay closed except for retail establishments that can be accessed from the outside. 

Barbershops and Hair Salons

Barbershops and hair salons may further reopen with up to 50 percent capacity, including staff. They may operate by appointment only and with appropriate health and safety guidelines. Under state order, other personal services establishments must remain closed until further notice.

Churches and Houses of Worship 

Churches and houses of worship may hold indoor religious services with up to 50 percent capacity, including staff. Outdoor and virtual services remain strongly encouraged. Religious leaders should do everything possible to keep their congregants safe. 

Residents are Safer at Home

Residents should continue to stay home when possible. Older and more vulnerable residents, and those who live with them, are strongly advised to stay home whenever possible.

Residents and visitors should practice safe physical distancing and wear masks in public, and frequently wash their hands and sanitize high-touch areas. Employers should continue to encourage telework for their employees when possible. Individuals who can work from home should continue to do so.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017