Baltimore, MD - Mar. 24, 2020 - Baltimore-area leaders are sending a message that they are prepared to address concerns connected to the coronavirus pandemic.
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, joined by major department heads Monday afternoon, addressed questions, concerns and rumors making the rounds.
The mayor said he supports Gov. Larry Hogan's order issued Monday to close nonessential businesses.
"This order helps protect our most vulnerable residents by limiting opportunities for the disease to spread," Young said.
The governor's announcement did not include a shelter-in-place requirement, but city officials are urging residents to remain home as much as possible to help limit contact and slow the transmission of the coronavirus.
In the city, a police Social Distancing Task Force is responsible for enforcing governor's directive, and officers will check to make sure businesses are closed and will keep an eye on them.
"Just like with the first executive order, we are now making adjustments to make sure we can enforce the governor's executive orders with the additional closures beginning at 5 p.m. (Monday), and when we get calls of noncompliance where there are gatherings of 10 people or more, we are responding to that and dispersing those individuals and educating those business owners as to what's required with the governor's executive orders. We've had a few calls to disperse gatherings of 10 or more, and we will continue to do that, and we will continue patrols and answering calls to make sure that our Social Distancing Task force will go out and make sure that businesses are in compliance, and when we find that they are not, we will take appropriate action," Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said.
"Our approach is to make sure that people recognize the fact that this is a serious matter and that this is the order of the governor. To this point, we've had full compliance, we haven't had any issues, and we've been successful, but at the end of the day, we will make sure that when we have gatherings that get brought to our attention, they will be resolved," Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said.
The order will not impact essential city services -- police, fire and emergency responders will continue to respond to 911 calls; trash and recycling will still be picked up; and Citizen Drop-Off Centers will remain open, among other services. Additionally, the Emergency Operations Center will remain active to manage the city's response to the virus.