Maryland eases some coronavirus restrictions on outdoor recreation, allowing golf, boating and more

The Baltimore Sun

Maryland remains under a stay-at-home order with schools and many businesses closed, but Gov. Larry Hogan announced a slight easing of restrictions Wednesday on outdoor recreation and nonemergency medical procedures.

The governor amended his stay-at-home order to allow for individual and small group sports — such as golfing and tennis, outdoor fitness instruction, recreational fishing and hunting, recreational boating and horseback riding — starting Thursday.

Also, Maryland’s state-owned beaches and parks will open Thursday for walking and exercise. Local governments will have the flexibility to take similar actions at their discretion, Hogan said.

“I know how anxious people are to get outside, both for their physical and mental well-being, and we know that outside activity is safer than inside activity,” Hogan said during a news conference Wednesday at the State House in Annapolis.

He said his coronavirus advisory team had “much discussion” Tuesday on the issue of outdoor activities, and members ultimately agreed to allow “lower-risk outdoor activities.”[Ocean City to reopen beaches, boardwalk this weekend, as resort town sees first coronavirus cases] »

Hogan also announced that hospitals can resume nonemergency procedures, which had been barred in an attempt to keep inpatient populations low in case a surge of COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm them.

“Many Marylanders may have put off important procedures, screenings and other things that they really need to attend to,” Hogan said. “If there’s something that you have had to delay — like a PET scan or a biopsy, an angioplasty or an orthopedic procedure — you should now be able to take care of those time-sensitive procedures.”

The changes marked the first easing of Hogan’s strict statewide restrictions, imposed starting in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The governor has pushed back against a wider reopening, saying the state needs to reach a sustained decline in the number of hospitalizations for treatment of the illness.

The governor’s move to reopen golf courses followed lobbying by owners and operators of clubs. A Politico reporter even asked him about it in April during a live interview.

“I want to get you on the record on this critical issue,” Politico reporter Jake Sherman asked. “Will golf courses in your state open any time in the near future?”

“Is there particular golf course that you would like to have open?” Hogan responded, chuckling. Hogan went on to say that opening golf courses would be “one of the early things that we do” as part of reopening — a pledge he fulfilled Wednesday.

David G. Bannister, board member of the Caves Valley Golf Club in Baltimore County, said he thinks golf is an activity that can be done safely.

While some courses might reopen immediately, Caves Valley plans to take its time preparing the facility and open May 22.

“We need a couple weeks to get things ready to go,” Bannister said. “Caves is a high-end experience. In order to present it the way you want, it takes a little time to tidy up.”

Republican lawmakers also had pressed to allow golfing, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only Republican in Congress. Though he’s not a golfer, Harris said as an anesthesiologist he understands how to control infections.

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Real estate agents meet with Garrett County officials

Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — Garrett County officials met recently with local real estate agents to discuss different ways to reopen rental units when given the green light by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Hogan’s recovery plan will roll out in a series of stages. The first stage is allowing “low risk” activities to begin, followed by, as benchmarks of progress are met, allowing “medium risk” and eventually “high risk” activities to take place. The governor’s stated goal is to gradually and responsibly reopen the economy while protecting the public health.

Depending on the plan submitted, the companies would fall in either the low or medium risk category, said County Health Officer Robert Stephens. The plans included discussions of initial cleaning and sanitation, ongoing cleaning and sanitation of indoor and outdoor environments and messaging to renters and owners regarding risks.

“We had a good meeting, discussing various options to open back up as quickly as we can in a safe way,” said Stephens in a news release. “We will follow Gov. Hogan’s guidance to determine the time to implement his Roadmap to Recovery plan. Our local vacation rental agencies have been very responsive. They have done a great deal of work to be prepared for when the governor will relax travel restrictions. It is our mutual desire to assure the health of our community.”

As the state moves closer to implementing the plan, Hogan will issue guidances to counties on what can be opened up during each stage of the process, and county officials will then be responsible for interpreting what said guidances mean for their county.

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DNR black bear den survey proves productive

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — Last month, as he does every March, Garrett County resident Harry Spiker checked on black bear sows and their cubs as they slept in their dens.

Spiker is a game mammal section leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He is also Maryland’s principal black bear biologist coordinating bear research and management activities statewide. Since he lives and works in Garrett County, he also helps with bear management and nuisance issues locally.

“We maintain a sample of radio-collared sows (female bears) to track population growth and the overall health of the bear population,” Spiker said. “We try to maintain approximately 20 bears with radios across the four western counties. Since bears give birth every other year, that usually has us working about 10 bear dens per year but there are fluctuations as some bears may die, move away, den in unreachable places, etc.”

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Mountain Fresh Farmers Market dates set, some online ordering available

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — A new option is now available for shopping at the Mountain Fresh Farmers Market.

With the current social distancing guidelines, some of the vendors have set up online markets.

Shoppers can purchase from each vendor individually with credit/debit (there is a small fee to help cover credit card fees for each transaction) or mark “pay with check” to pay at the market with check or cash (with no fees).

Customers can also choose where and when to pick up products, with some vendors offering on-farm pickup, as well.

A list of vendors can be found at www.MountainFresh.org/shop, and more vendors will be added.

“In order to help our vendors and customers comply with the social distancing recommendations, we’ve been looking at different farmers market options,” said Cheryl DeBerry, market adviser. “Online ordering with farmers market pick up seemed like the best way to help reduce the crowds and keep people safe.”

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Diehl’s Ford Sales offers meals to anyone who needs one

The Garrett County Republican

GRANTSVILLE — In this time of uncertainty, some families find that they need help with meals. That help is coming from many places, some of which are unexpected, such as from a Ford dealership.

As of today (April 2), 308 free meals have been served at Diehl’s Ford Sales in Grantsville. A new remodel was recently completed there, which includes a full kitchen in the new employee break room. This allows for meals to be kept hot all day.

“Honestly, the idea came to me the first Saturday that this started hitting really hard (March 14),” said Vivian Diehl, office manager and vice president. “I was home and thinking about what we could do to help out our community in this situation. I knew that there were many families that needed food, but also if we could provide the meal to anyone, no questions asked or judgement passed, it could relieve anyone’s stress from this horrible situation we are all in together.”

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Krause family shares message of hope

From The Garrett County Republican

ACCIDENT — Members of the Krause family of Accident spent time over the weekend trying to brighten the day for people who might be passing by their Aiken Miller Road residence.

“I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post that read, ‘Chalk your walk’ and to write a message or draw a picture on your walkway/driveway for all the first responders who are still working during this tough time, so when they drive around town they will see it. So that’s what we did,” Brandi Krause said. “I live just minutes from the Dollar General in Accident so I went and bought multiple boxes of chalk, brought them home and let the girls’ creativity run wild.”

Krause said that she and her husband Matthew are “totally outnumbered with three beautiful girls,” Danika, 12, Charli, 8 and Blakesley, 4.

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