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These past two months have been an extremely difficult and trying time for everyone in our community.   While the models seemed far more dire at the start of this ordeal, we are all thankful that far fewer people have suffered than initially feared.  We appreciate what each person in Carroll County has done to mitigate the spread of this virus and we particularly want to thank our nurses, doctors and all first responders for their courage and sacrifice. We also have to recognize the tremendous economic and personal sacrifice that thousands of people are paying to follow the rules and keep others safe.

The executive order measures were put into place to flatten the curve and to ensure our hospital and healthcare systems would not be overwhelmed as we saw in New York City.  Though we are not out of the woods entirely, these efforts have been successful.

Now, we believe it is critical for businesses, non-profits and churches to be given a plan for how they can have a careful and phased re-opening. Clearly, our business community has followed each rule and has done its part in the effort to keep people safe.  Many of these companies are on the brink of financial disaster and if they are unable to open back up to generate  income we could lose them for good.

The principles that should guide this phased re-opening should include the current social distancing and other regulations required in grocery stores and pharmacies but could include restrictions based on size or fire marshal capacity. We should switch the distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” to one of whether a business can operate safely in a limited way until we reach the 14 days of decline in deaths and hospitalizations as required by Trump Administration guidelines. For example – a hair salon could take anyone by appointment irrespective of that person’s job.

Finally, we have urged the Hogan administration to lift restrictions on a number of recreational activities including fishing, boating, walking or riding bikes with friends, riding horses and golfing  (including driving ranges)– provided that people that engage in following the protocol of social distancing. A golf course could be open and have the clubhouse be able to remain open for carry out only. These would be great ways for people to improve their mental health and also help additional small businesses.

Furthermore, we support churches and houses of worship being permitted to reopen provided that they can do so using approved social distancing practices. Not everyone may want to attend services in person depending on their risk level but the time has come for this important step forward.

While all of this won’t happen overnight, it is vital for businesses to be able to plan ahead on at least a general timeline. We are encouraging an overall philosophy of “how can we make this work?”

Each of us will continue to advocate for these principles and work in collaboration with federal, state and local authorities to get as many businesses and people back to work and our economy moving again.  God Bless.

The District 5 Team

Senator Justin Ready
Delegate Susan Krebs
Delegate April Rose
Delegate Haven Shoemaker