OXON HILL, MD — For weeks, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has condemned large gatherings of minors at the National Harbor. Now, her team is pushing back.
Unaccompanied minors now face a curfew at the National Harbor under a new order from the Prince George's County Health Department. Minors must clear public areas by 5 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They may return at 6 a.m. the next day.
The mandate does not apply to minors who are commuting to or from work, attending an official event or traveling with an adult older than 21. The directive takes effect Friday at 5 p.m.
"We have had repeated issues at National Harbor with young people gathering in large crowds
without masks," Alsobrooks said in a press release. "Due to the concerning rise in COVID-19 cases in our County and State, we are required to take this necessary action to limit the spread of the virus."
Alsobrooks has called out these gatherings over the last several weeks, adding that the minors are not patronizing the local businesses.
Some parents are renting hotel rooms where their unaccompanied teenagers throw parties. The Health Department temporarily closed two National Harbor hotels on Nov. 12 to slow the spread of the virus and stymie these gatherings.
The health order estimates that 150 to 2,500 unaccompanied minors are congregating at once. Contact tracing data suggest that many coronavirus patients went to a large gathering or party in the two weeks before testing positive.
With most coronavirus metrics at their highest rate since spring, Prince George's County Health Officer Dr. Ernest Carter said action was necessary.
"We know COVID-19 is spreading due to people engaging in these high-risk activities," Carter said in the release. "It needs to stop or more Prince Georgians will get sick or die."
Police will issue a $1,000 to $5,000 fine for anybody who refuses to comply. Violators are also guilty of a misdemeanor and could spend up to a year in prison. Complicit parents and unruly minors are eligible for these punishments.
"We must all continue to do our part to protect ourselves and our community," Alsobrooks said.
To catch up on Prince George's County's coronavirus trends, click here.
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