Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Orders Closure of All Non-Essential Businesses to Control Coronavirus Spread

24 March 2020 Coronavirus Resource Center:Back to Business Blog
Authors: Paul R. Monsees

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an Executive Order yesterday, March 23, 2020, to close all non-essential Maryland businesses, effective at 5:00 PM the same day, and to announce a $175 million business relief program for state business and workers. The Governor adopted the federal guidelines issued on March 19, 2020 about “critical infrastructure sectors” to define those businesses that would be deemed essential and not subject to closure.  The Governor also made clear in his press conference announcing the restrictions that he was not ordering Marylanders to shelter in place or not to leave their homes.

The Executive Order followed on the heels of an Executive Order issued last week on March 19, 2020 in which the Governor ordered closure of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, theaters, enclosed malls and certain other recreational establishments and which prohibited “social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events” of more than 10 people at any and all locations. Violations of the business closure and social gatherings directive of last week are punishable as a misdemeanor, including a fine of up to $5,000.  No such penalty was included in the March 23, 2020 closure order for all non-essential businesses.

Later in the day yesterday, the Maryland Office of Legal Counsel issued Interpretive Guidance, including “a non-exhaustive list of businesses, organizations and facilities” that are exempted from the closure order and confirming that the Governor’s Executive Order “is not a shelter in place order.” Instead, “Marylanders are urged to remain home, and employers are urged to promote work-from-home arrangements to the greatest extent possible.”

The “non-exhaustive” list of businesses, organizations and facilities in the Interpretive Guidance identified 89 industries/businesses (some of which are identified below) in the following sectors:

  • Chemical – pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing and distribution
  • Commercial Facilities – lodging, building maintenance, big box home supply stores, commercial/residential construction, plumbing/electrical/HVAC distributors
  • Communications – cable TV, broadcasting, telephone, internet service providers
  • Critical Manufacturing – steel, iron & aluminum products, construction equipment, land, air and water vehicles, cleaning/sanitation. Medical equipment/PPE
  • Defense Industrial - R&D/manufacturing re weapons/defense, supporting private contractors
  • Emergency Services – law enforcement, EMT, fire & rescue, private ambulance
  • Energy – electricity production, oil, gas, propane production/refining, utility maintenance
  • Financial Services – banks, non-bank lenders, credit unions, payroll/payment processing, insurance, securities and investment companies, accounting
  • Food and Agriculture – grocery, convenience stores, alcohol sales, food service and manufacturing, farms, pet supply, agriculture equipment
  • Government Facilities – lawyers, law firms, court reporters, bail bondsmen
  • Healthcare and Public Health – hospitals, health care providers, rehab facilities, payors/billing companies, funeral homes, senior living, manufacture of medical equipment
  • Information Technology – IT software and hardware, network routing/access
  • Transportation Systems – airlines, airports, railroads, motor carriers, freight carriers, marine/truck terminals, couriers, warehouses, pipelines, auto supply
  • Water and Wastewater Systems- municipal drinking and wastewater systems, maintenance and inspection of such systems, well drillers, water testing,
  • Supporting Firms – staffing/payroll services, raw materials, products and services

The Interpretive Guidance can be revised or rescinded at any time. Given the fast pace of State government responses to the COVID pandemic, it is likely that changes may be forthcoming.

For more information about recommended steps, please contact your Foley relationship partner. For additional web-based resources available to assist you in monitoring the spread of COVID-19 on a global basis, you may wish to visit the CDC and the World Health Organization

Foley has created a multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional team, which has prepared a wealth of topical client resources and is prepared to help our clients meet the legal and business challenges that the coronavirus outbreak is creating for stakeholders across a range of industries. Click here for Foley’s Coronavirus Resource Center to stay apprised of relevant developments, insights and resources to support your business during this challenging time. To receive this content directly in your inbox, click here and submit the form. 

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