After more than two months of lockdown, we’re beginning to see signs that our economies — federal, state and local — may be about to reopen.
It depends on where you are, of course, and what your area’s COVID-19 numbers are telling, and what your political leaders have to say on the subject. But the signs are there, and Americans who have been holed up in their homes for nine weeks or more are cracking open their doors and looking for them.
Maryland is the latest example.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday evening that he will lift Maryland’s stay-at-home order at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, May 15. His announcement comes after nearly two weeks of declines in the number of hospitalizations and cases requiring intensive care.
“The fight against this deadly disease is far from over,” Hogan said. “But because of the incredible courage you have shown and the extraordinary sacrifices you have made, Maryland and our nation can now at least begin to slowly recover.”
As reported by The Baltimore Sun:
- “All manufacturing may resume and retail stores may reopen at up to 50 percent of capacity with curbside service encouraged. Such stores include clothing and shoe sellers, pet groomers, car washes, art galleries and book stores.”
- “Churches and houses of worship may begin to hold religious services at up to 50 percent of capacity, with outdoor services encouraged.”
- “Barber shops and hair salons may open with up to 50 percent capacity, and by appointment only.”
- “Restrictions on gatherings of larger than 10 people and closure of so-called nonessential businesses remain in place.”
The low-risk easing of stay-at-home restrictions is part of Phase One of a three-phase reopening plan that the governor calls Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery. It follows the governor’s May 5 announcement to resume elective medical procedures and some low-risk outdoor activities, including individual and small-group sports such as golf and tennis, outdoor fitness instruction, horseback riding, and fishing, hunting, and boating.
Phase One of Maryland’s reopening calls for lifting the stay-at-home order and involves business, community, religious, and quality of life improvements. Examples of changes that could be implemented in this stage include the following:
- Reopening of small shops and certain small businesses
- Curbside pickup and drop-off for businesses
- Elective medical and dental procedures at ambulatory, outpatient, and medical offices
- Limited attendance for outdoor religious gatherings
- Recreational boating, fishing, golf, tennis, hiking, and hunting
- Reopening of car washes
- Limited outdoor gym and fitness classes
- Outdoor work with appropriate distancing measures
- Some personal services
Proceed with caution
Gov. Hogan’s announcement does not mean that life has returned to normal. In fact, even as restrictions have begun to ease, we must proceed with caution — for our own well being and that of those around us.
The first stage of Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery includes so-called “stop signs” that may be required if cases of COVID-19 begin to escalate again. In such a case, the easing of restrictions may slow, stop, or even be reversed.
In addition, the Roadmap notes that “Marylanders should be prepared to continue teleworking, wearing masks or face coverings, and practicing physical distancing for the foreseeable future.”
Unfortunately, our requests for a statewide preemption to make the reopening easier for businesses to comply with were not in the plan and each county and municipality are offering their own timelines. The Maryland Chamber of Commerce shared a helpful chart of the latest information by county and municipality here (as of May 14th).
Keep in mind that we requested and were granted that ALL Accounting and Finance personnel in all organizations are considered ‘Essential Services’ under Executive Order #COVID19-04 dated March 23, 2020. This means you can be in the office regardless of the jurisdiction requirements as long as you maintain ‘social distancing’ and use personal protective equipment, especially face masks.
In addition to the Roadmap to Recovery, some additional resources are available that offer valuable guidance for organizations that want to reopen their business in a safe and socially responsible manner. These resources include the following:
MACPA compiles best practices: The MACPA has released a document that gathers recommendations from health care, government, and business experts and presents them as the generally accepted best advice available for how business leaders can safely return to work. That guide is titled “Reopening the Profession: An Accounting and Finance Professional’s Guide to Safe Work in a COVID-19 World.”
JHU offers operational toolkit for businesses: The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has released an operational toolkit for businesses considering reopening or expanding operations in COVID-19. The toolkit includes an easy-to-use risk assessment, flowchart, and mitigation planning worksheets.
Strategic insights on COVID-19: MACPA CEO Tom recently recorded a virtual conversation with world-renowned futurist and New York Times best-selling author Daniel Burrus. Titled “Strategic Insights on COVID-19,” this webinar gave MACPA members an opportunity to learn future-focused strategies directly from one of the world’s most anticipatory thinkers. As Daniel says, “Our post-pandemic success will be determined by what we do now, not by what we do post-pandemic,” so there’s no better time to start building a future-ready mindset. Watch the webinar here.
A longer-term economic outlook
As Maryland and other states begin to slowly reopen their economies, some are wondering what’s in store for our economy further down the road.
To help answer that question, the MACPA is hosting a live webcast on May 20 with Anirban Basu, a renowned economist and chairman and CEO of the Sage Policy Group, an economic and policy consulting firm in Baltimore.
Titled “Return of the Economist: Emerging from COVID-19,” the economic update will examine a set of economic fragilities that have been exposed by the pandemic. Basu will address our current economic circumstances, how difficult things are likely to become over the foreseeable future, and the contours of the brisk recovery to come thereafter.
The webcast is sponsored exclusively by Frost Law.