ANNAPOLIS, Md. — All Maryland child care providers, except those serving essential personnel, are being ordered to close by the end of the day Friday to help fight the spread of coronavirus, state officials said.
The state has already ordered non-essential businesses to close.
“During this State of Emergency, child care programs have been established by the State to serve only designated essential personnel,” State Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon said in a news release.
The programs are being provided at no cost to designated essential personnel.
On Mar. 23, Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close. That includes bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and other places where crowds could gather that are not critical to the infrastructure of day-to-day life.
Hogan emphasized that this is not a shelter-in-place order, as has been issued in other states. He said he believes closing down businesses is a more effective way to keep people from venturing out.
"Marylanders are urged to remain home, and employers are urged to promote work-from-home arrangements to the greatest extent possible," according to the Office of Legal Counsel of Maryland.
In Monday's press conference, Hogan thanked the Marylanders who have been social distancing and staying at home but cautioned those who have not complied.
“Unfortunately, many people are still not taking it seriously," Hogan said. "There were crowds of people visiting the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., and large gatherings on the beach in Ocean City and on the boardwalk. If you are engaged in this kind of activity, you are breaking the law, and you are literally endangering the lives of your family, your friends, and fellow citizens."
The closure of all non-essential businesses began at 5 p.m. Monday, March 23.
Hogan said it's a difficult decision having to close businesses, but his administration is trying to be aggressive to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"It's the twin battles, so we don't take any of these steps, and hundreds of thousands or millions of people are going to die in America," Hogan said. "We do take these steps and hundreds of thousands are going to be hurt economically, so it’s a terrible choice, and so the solution is we try to do both. We try to save lives, and then we try to help save the economy."
He said they have set up multiple funds to help small businesses weather the storm.
At least one of the funds provides up to $10,000 in the form of a direct, immediate grant to help businesses with fewer than 50 employees. His administration said they are also offering up to $50,000 in low-interest loans, with a 0% interest rate in the first 12 months.
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