HOWARD COUNTY, MD — HoCo RISE (Reopening Innovatively, Safely and Effectively) has been unveiled by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball to help guide the county as it works toward loosening restrictions set in place during the new coronavirus pandemic. The guidelines take effect Friday at 5 p.m.
“HoCo RISE provides additional data points that are specific to Howard County, our hospital and our infrastructure to combat COVID-19,” said Ball in a statement. “We’re a data-informed, people-driven community and this framework will allow us to make thoughtful decisions about how to responsibly reopen.”
However, Ball said there are concerns about the county's proximity to other counties with higher case rates and the county's ability to access testing reagents.
"The governor’s announcement came as a bit of surprise. We did not expect him to go as far as he did, especially in areas like religious gatherings," said Ball. “We recognize the significant burden our residents, workers and businesses have faced over the past six weeks. This week, another 3,199 residents filed for unemployment insurance and pandemic unemployment assistance, bringing Howard County’s total unemployment claims to more than 26,000. We are still working toward many of the building blocks needed for additional reopening, but we feel as though some limited retail and outdoor activities can resume safely at this time.”
Hoard County Executive Ball has made the following decisions for each of the governor’s Step One actions:
* Howard County did not implement a county-wide stay-at-home order and one will not be implemented at this time. Residents are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible and abide by the governor’s safer-at-home public health advisory.
* Religious Services - Howard County in-person religious gatherings may resume with 10 people or less and are strongly encouraged to take place in outdoor settings.
* Retail - The following is a non-exhaustive list of Howard County retail businesses that may open but are restricted to curbside pick-up or delivery only:
- Art galleries
- Clothing and shoe stores
- Furniture stores
- Lawn and garden stores
- Pawn shops
- Sporting goods stores
- Tobacco and vape shops
* The following retail establishments may operate at 50 percent capacity:
- Pet Groomers
- Animal Adoption
- Car Washes
* Howard County manufacturing businesses may open following the guidelines issued by the State of Maryland.
* Howard County barber shops and hair salons may open by appointment only with only one customer allowed in a location at a time. Businesses should follow guidelines issued by the State of Maryland.
* The Governor’s Step One reopening does not include nail salons, esthetician services or massage parlors.
* Howard County outdoor archery and shooting ranges may open with appropriate physical distancing and mask requirements.
* Howard County campgrounds will remain closed.
* Howard County Recreation & Parks boat rentals will remain closed. Columbia Association’s boat rentals will remain closed.
* Howard County horse boarding and riding facilities may open with appropriate physical distancing and mask requirements.
* Mall in Columbia stores with exterior access may open for curbside pick-up or delivery only.