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Baltimore City To Move To Phase 1 Of Re-Opening

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young has announced that the city will move Monday into Phase 1 of its plan to re-open after the coronavirus shutdown.

Mayor Young said in a news conference Friday that the city has met the metrics to allow the move.

Over the last two weeks, there has been a drop in the number of new deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and the number of positive tests has remained under 20 percent during that period. In addition, the city is averaging 1,000 tests per day and the rate of hospitalizations has dropped sharply.

That means, he said, restrictions will be eased on daycare centers, camps, hair salons and barbershops, as well as outdoor religious gatherings of no more than fifty people. 

Child care services can open with a limit of up to 10 people per room.  Camps can open also with no more than 10 total people per room and 50 people per outdoor space. Hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen by appointment only and can allow five people per 1,000 square feet of floor space.

Baltimore's popular downtown Farmers Market will open June 14, with limited capacity.

Mayor Young explained that the city’s Phase 1 re-opening follows other jurisdictions by a few weeks because Baltimore’s housing stock is more compact than that in the suburban counties.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said her department will monitor COVID-19 cases to watch for trends and to see if the continuing protests over the death of a black man in police custody in Minnesota will lead to an increase in cases. She said face masks should still be worn and asked citizens to be vigilant about social distancing guidelines.

Mary Rose is a reporter and senior news producer for 88.1 WYPR FM, a National Public Radio member station in Baltimore. At the local news desk, she assigns stories, organizes special coverage, edits news stories, develops series and reports.