By Josh Garber
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued a shelter-in-place order Monday for all Maryland residents, hoping to curb the rapid increase in coronavirus cases around the state. The order was announced the morning of March 30 and was taken into effect later that night at 8 p.m.
Under the order, residents are prohibited from making non-essential trips; Marylanders can still leave their homes for food and medical care. Those who violate the stay-at-home mandate could be charged with a misdemeanour, punishable by up to one year in prison or up to a $5,000 fine, or both.
“We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so,“ said Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland at a news conference in Annapolis on Monday morning.
According to Hogan’s statement on Monday, Maryland is up to 1,413 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with 18 confirmed deaths. The amount of cases has drastically increased by 200 more cases in just one day having a total of 1,660 as of Tuesday, March 31st.
Gov. Hogan’s announcement was followed by similar directives from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser who also issued stay-at-home orders.
Virginia and D.C. have additionally seen a high number of cases recently, with Virginia totalling 1,249 confirmed cases, and D.C. totalling 495 as of Tuesday.
An additional aspect of the Governor Hogan's order stipulated that Maryland residents were prohibited from leaving the state. Class of 2020 President Arjun Akwei, who lives on Western Avenue, which straddles the Maryland/DC border, and consistently goes for runs across the border, initially read Hogan's order with concern. However, it was later clarified that runs, bike rides, hikes, and even grocery runs into the district were permitted by the order.
There is some suspicion as to the extent to which law enforcement will enforce such regulations given the various exemptions outlined in the executive order. According to the signed document, "This Order does not require the closure of, or prohibit the movement of any staff or volunteer traveling to, from, or in connection with their duties at: any federal, State, or local government unit, building, or facility; any newspaper, television, radio, or other media service; or any non-profit organization or facility providing essential services to low income persons, including, without limitation, homeless shelters, food banks, and soup kitchens."
Akwei realizes the difficulties of extensive enforcement. "I think it's harder to enforce [the order] in a suburban setting like ours, however," Akwei continues, "I think that it will be far different than anything we [as a collective community] have ever experienced."
Nevertheless, the senior class president reminds the student body that the executive order from the governor put into clear law what people had already known. "The coronavirus has changed the way we live our lives; this just ensures there is a more firm enforcement of these necessary reforms," said Akwei.
A car with Maryland license plates rests at a stop in a D.C. area.