ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan and state health officials today took a series of actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season, including new testing and quarantine requirements for travel, and a new public health advisory to limit gatherings. In addition, the governor announced an additional $180 million in emergency economic relief, including more help for bars and restaurants, as well as a boost in the Temporary Cash Assistance benefit.
“Our strongest defense against this virus continues to be the cooperation and the vigilance of the people of Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “However, this holiday season could present perhaps our toughest challenge yet. Our message today is simple: you are safer at home for the holidays this year. Making difficult sacrifices during these next few weeks will absolutely help to keep your family, loved ones, and your fellow Marylanders safe.”
The governor was joined by Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Greg Slater, and Dr. Jinlene Chan, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services.
‘HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS’ ORDERS AND ADVISORIES:
With contact tracing consistently showing that family and other social gatherings and out-of-state travel lead to the most cases and the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19, Governor Hogan announced the following additional mitigation actions.
- NEW PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY TO LIMIT GATHERINGS TO 10 OR LESS. The Maryland Department of Health issued a public health advisory warning Marylanders against all non-essential activities and holiday gatherings with people outside one’s immediate household. Under this advisory, all Marylanders should refrain from attending public and private gatherings of more than 10 people in one location and should practice physical distancing to the maximum extent possible. Read the advisory.
- EXPANDED TESTING AND QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS FOR TRAVEL. The governor issued an emergency order requiring Marylanders to limit all travel to essential purposes only. All Marylanders who do travel outside of Maryland or any individuals who do travel to Maryland must either obtain a negative COVID-19 test result or self-quarantine for 10 days. This applies to all states, with the exception of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC. Read the governor’s order and the companion health directives.
- TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON CUSTOMER SERVICE OPERATIONS, CONTINUATION OF MANDATORY TELEWORK FOR STATE EMPLOYEES. Governor Hogan has directed state agencies to suspend in-person customer service operations for two weeks, beginning Monday, December 21. Telework continues to be mandatory for state employees who are able to telework, and all businesses are strongly encouraged to institute telework over the holidays.
- SANTA CLAUS EXEMPT FROM ALL TRAVEL, TESTING, AND QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS. Today, Governor Hogan issued a special emergency order exempting Santa Claus, the elves from Santa’s workshop, and the reindeer necessary for the operation of Santa’s sleigh from any and all travel, testing, and quarantine requirements. Read the order.
ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL $180 MILLION IN EMERGENCY ECONOMIC RELIEF, WILL SEEK LARGER STIMULUS PACKAGE DURING 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION:
Governor Hogan announced another $180 million in state emergency economic relief to help those families and small businesses that are being hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic. With these actions, the state has now provided well over $600 million in emergency economic relief, and the governor pledged to seek a larger economic and stimulus package during the upcoming legislative session.
“When the legislature returns to work next month for the 2021 session, we will also be proposing a larger economic and stimulus relief package, which will provide further support for our struggling families and small businesses,” the governor said.
- $50 MILLION FOR HOTELS AND HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES. The governor announced that the State of Maryland is providing $50 million from its dedicated emergency rapid response fund to help hotels and hospitality businesses across the state. This funding will be distributed by local jurisdictions to go toward payroll expenses, rent, and utilities in order to keep operations going while travel is restricted.
- $30 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL RELIEF FOR BARS AND RESTAURANTS. The governor announced another $30 million to replenish the state’s successful relief program for bars and restaurants, which will now total $80 million. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to distribute this money quickly and to match this investment where possible.
- $15 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL RELIEF FOR ENTERTAINMENT VENUES. The governor announced another $15 million in assistance to entertainment venues through the state’s successful Main Street program at the Maryland Department of Housing, which will now total $35 million.
- $5 MILLION FOR RURAL BUSINESSES. As part of a new relief initiative, the governor announced $5 million to help socially or economically disadvantaged tech-based businesses in the state’s rural counties.
- $40 MILLION TO BOOST THE TEMPORARY CASH ASSISTANCE BENEFIT. The governor announced $40 million to provide a $100 boost to the Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefit for each of the next six months. This will help more than 66,000 Maryland families that are struggling to make ends meet.
- $40 MILLION FOR HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS. The governor announced $40 million for health care providers by beginning their 4% increase on January 1, six months ahead of schedule.
EXTENSION OF MORATORIUM ON FORECLOSURES:
The governor also signed an emergency order extending the moratorium on foreclosures to January 31, consistent with the federal CARES Act. Read the order.