Upset that some Marylanders continue to ignore social distancing recommendations to combat COVID-19, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a new executive order today to keep people at home, requiring all non-essential businesses to close their doors at 5 p.m., Today, March 23, until further notice.
The executive order supersedes all previous executive orders.
“Beginning today, even further and more aggressive enforcement actions will be taken by state and local authorities to disperse these gatherings,” Hogan said at his 11 a.m press conference. “Unless you have a critical reason to leave, you should stay home.”
The order authorizes the National Guard and law enforcement agencies to disperse crowds of more than 10.
Businesses that engage in price gouging will be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law,” Hogan said.
The closure of more businesses came with the announcement of $175 million in grants and loans to Maryland companies and nonprofits to cover overhead and provide operating cash.
A $7 million fund will go to the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund to help businesses meet payroll.
To brace for more COVID-19 cases, Laurel Hospital will increase its capacity by another 130 beds, and John Hopkins and the University of Maryland Medical System will jointly operate a field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center consisting of 250 beds.
The number of testing sites also increases. Four MVA locations will become drive up test sites for COVID-19 as soon as equipment and staff are in place. Hogan also issued an emergency order to fast track production of test kits.