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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: public health

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.”


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.


Residents Should Call COVID-19 Hotline for Testing Reservation

Baltimore County will now offer COVID-19 tests at all of its testing sites without a doctor’s order. In order to ensure efficient operations, residents will be required to call the County’s COVID-19 hotline to make an appointment.

Previously, tests at County testing sites were only available to individuals with a doctor’s order. Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Branch has now issued a standing order for all County residents, enabling any resident wishing to receive a test to do so.

Residents wishing to receive a test must call the COVID-19 hotline at 410-887-3816. They will receive instructions for scheduling an appointment. The Hotline is operating seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Increased access to testing is a key factor in our efforts to continue the gradual reopening of our economy, so allowing any County resident to receive a test, regardless of whether they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, is another important step forward,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “We continue working around the clock to put measures in place that to reduce the spread of the virus and help get Baltimore County back to work.”

“The standing order makes community-based testing extremely convenient for residents,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Baltimore County Health Officer. “Additionally, scheduling a testing reservation will help ensure a more efficient process for everyone.”

Testing Locations

Baltimore County will continue to offer testing at the following locations:

Residents are reminded that they should continue to take precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

They should stay home whenever possible, and if they must go out, they should wear a mask in public places and adhere to social distancing guidelines.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017