As of May 15 at 5 p.m., Marylanders are encouraged to stay at home, particularly those who are at-risk for contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19). However, retail stores and places of worship will be allowed to open, provided that they only permit half of their maximum capacity to enter at once.
Additionally, businesses such as hair salons and barber shops are permitted to open, provided that they are appointment-only and conform to social distancing practices.
This lifting of restrictions comes after a two-week plateau of COVID-19 cases in Maryland. However, leaders in certain areas of Maryland with more cases, such as Baltimore City, have decided to maintain stay-at-home restrictions for the time being.
In an email to the Hopkins community, Provost Sunil Kumar and Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Jane Schlegel stated that, in compliance with this ruling, Hopkins will allow only essential activities to continue on campus.
“We are all eager to be together again and to return to our full academic, clinical, and work activities,” they wrote. “But we also are unwavering in our commitment to making decisions thoughtfully, taking into consideration not only the state and federal guidelines but also the advice of our public health experts as we determine the best approach for the safety of everyone in our community.”
In an interview with The News-Letter, junior Mikhael Hammer-Bleich, who is currently living in Baltimore, credited Hogan’s quick response to the virus for the plateau in state-wide cases.
“Given that we had a little more time than New York to respond, and given that the governor was willing to respond at the right time, it probably saved a lot of lives and a lot of people from getting the virus,” he said.
Hammer-Bleich recognized that there will be an economic impact of the stay-at-home order, having personally lost a summer internship in Northern Virginia. He also believes, however, that the governor has been acting responsibly throughout the pandemic.
“Given his responses so far, I trust the governor and his medical experts to make the decision,” he said. “They know what the best thing is for Maryland both in terms of the economy and public health.”
Nichi Pandey, a freshman who lives 20 minutes outside of Baltimore, also recognized the financial strain that the stay-at-home order creates.
“I know people involved in Baltimore’s food scene, and I’ve seen how much the stay-at-home order has negatively affected them,” Pandey wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Ultimately, it’s going to become a balance between safety and making sure we save the economy!”
Freshman Emi Ochoa, who is currently living in Rockville, Md. with her family, was more hesitant about the safer-at-home advisory.
“I’m kind of concerned about the lifting of constrictions because even though infections are decreasing right now, I think we’re going to see a huge spike again,” Ochoa wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
Despite her wariness, Ochoa noted that her own county, Montgomery County, is not opening up yet due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases.
In a tweet on May 13, Hogan noted that his lifting of restrictions does not mean life should resume to pre-pandemic normalcy.
“While we are taking a positive step forward, it does not mean that we are safe or that this crisis is over,” Hogan wrote. “All Marylanders, particularly those older and more vulnerable populations, are advised to continue staying home as much as possible.”
Ochoa will be taking Hogan’s words to heart.
“When my county does open up, I’m still going to stay home as much as I can to protect my family,” she wrote.
Looking towards the future, Kumar and Schlegel wrote that they intend to resume activity on campus only when it coincides with state and city governance as well as the advice of public health officials, with in-person research being the first activity to recommence.
“The university will announce additional details of our phased approach to resuming on-campus activities in the coming weeks as state and local orders and our internal assessments allow, and we will communicate changes to our operations as decisions are made,” they wrote.
Pandey expressed that he will remain positive throughout the course of the pandemic.
“Baltimore is a tough city, so we’ll keep thinking positive and I hope things will start getting better soon,” he wrote.