Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed a new Executive Order (EO) reopening movie theaters and live entertainment venues, subject to limitations and local regulation. Additionally, the EO permits retail stores and houses of worship to increase capacity from 50% to 75%, subject to local regulation.

These changes, effective September 4, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., signal the beginning of phase three of the Governor’s Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery. (For more, see our articles, Maryland Expands Face Covering Requirement, Unemployment Benefits, Issues Travel Advisory and Maryland Phase Two Reopenings: Indoor Dining, Malls, Gyms.)

Pursuant to the EO, movie theaters and live entertainment venues, which were previously prohibit from reopening, will be permitted to reopen, subject to the following limitations:

  • Indoor Theaters (where live performances occur or motion pictures are shown) may reopen to the general public, provided that the total number of people permitted in the Indoor Theater at any one time (per individual auditorium or performance stage) not exceed the lesser of 50% of the Indoor Theater’s Maximum Capacity (see below) or 100 people.
  • Outdoor Entertainment Venues (where live performances occur or motion pictures are shown outdoors and at which entry is limited to ticketed customers) may reopen to the general public, provided that the total number of people permitted in an Outdoor Entertainment Venue at any one time does not exceed the lesser of 50% capacity of the Outdoor Entertainment Venue’s Maximum Capacity (see below) or 250 people.

“Maximum Occupancy” means the load of the Facility under the applicable fire code, as set forth on a certificate for the Facility by a local fire code official, or, if no such certificate has been issued for the Facility by the local fire code official, the maximum occupancy of the Facility pursuant to applicable laws, regulations, and permits.

Retails Stores, Houses of Worship May Increase Capacity From 50% to 75%

Pursuant to the EO, retail stores and houses of worship will be able to increase capacity from 50% to 75%, subject to local regulation.

In line with previous orders, the EO provides a flexible and community-based approach to reopening. County leaders are allowed to make decisions on the timing of reopening in their individual jurisdictions.

Howard County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, and Hartford County have announced that they will follow the Governor’s phase three reopening timeline.

Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, and Montgomery County have announced that they will not be following the Governor’s phase three reopening plan.

Reopening orders contain extensive requirements creating compliance issues that can vary significantly depending on the specific state or local jurisdiction.