"We are no longer asking or suggesting Marylanders to stay home. We are directing them,” Gov. Larry Hogan said.

On Monday, March 30, Governor Larry Hogan placed Maryland under a "stay-at-home" order, joining more than 30 other state governments scrambling to curb the spread of the COVID-19. The ruling remains in place until the state of emergency (declared by the State of Maryland on March 5) is lifted. The stay-at-home order mostly expands restrictions already issued under earlier bills prohibiting out-of-state travel, restrictions on certain business operations, and limitations on certain public gatherings. The major difference is that rather than restricting activities in public, the state says you should not go in public unless you absolutely need to.

As of 4 p.m. on March 31, Maryland has documented 1,660 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and 18 deaths. 

Virginia and Washington, D.C., announced stay-at-home orders the same day, with D.C.'s to take effect on April 1.

Maryland's Stay-at-Home Order (TL;DR)

  • You can leave your house to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, seek medical attention, take care of sick relatives & friends, or exercise (see more exceptions permitted below).
  • You can go back and forth from work if you work at an essential business that's allowed to remain open.
  • When you do go out, you must comply with social distancing guidelines issued by the CDC and Maryland Department of Health (not specified in more detail in the bill).
  • Groups of more than 10 people cannot congregate, and most public gatherings are prohibited (as under previous state issuances).
  • You shouldn't leave the state, and if you're returning to the state from somewhere else, you need to self-quarantine for 14 days. (Get more information on the State of Maryland website, or read the order itself here.) 

What is a stay-at-home order?

  • "A stay-at-home order is an order from an authority to restrict movements of populations as a mass quarantine strategy for suppressing or mitigating an epidemic or pandemic by ordering residents to stay home except for essential tasks or going to work in essential businesses." — Wikipedia

Where is it okay for me to go?

Detailed & varied regulations govern "essential" & "nonessential" business operations. But if you're a person, not a business, you can leave your house to perform these "essential activities":

  • Going outdoors to exercise, so long as you comply with social distancing guidelines
  • Going back and forth from a government building for "essential purposes"
  • Getting help or medicine for yourself, your family, or your pets
    • Going to the ER/seeking emergency services
    • Going to seek "medical or behavioral health services"
    • Going to get medication or medical supplies
    • Going to seek services for or perform activities that are essential
  • Going back and forth from a school to get
    • Meals
    • Instructional materials or distance learning supplies
  • Going to take care of a family member, friend, or pet that lives somewhere else, including
    • Going to their household to take care of them
    • Driving them somewhere so they can get help or essential supplies
  • Going somewhere required by court order, or somewhere law enforcement told you to go
  • Going to get "necessary supplies" for you, your family, or your pets ("without limitation"), including
    • Groceries
    • Supplies for your household
    • Materials you need to work from home
    • Laundry
    • Products needed to "maintain safety, sanitation, and essential maintenance of the home"

What happens if I just don't follow it?

  • You could be charged with a misdemeanor and potentially face up to $5,000 in fines if you "knowingly violate" the order

Will the state actually enforce it?

Sort of, yes—it depends—but that's not the point. Maryland State Police published a news release on March 31, outlining how they'll enforce the rule (it will specifically be enforced by Maryland State Troopers). But this is not East Berlin in 1963. Police in Maryland's Montgomery County say they will not “randomly stop community members for compliance checks.” However:

  • Police will continue to "initiate enforcement" if they see a gathering of 10 or more
  • Police won't pull you over just to ask where you're going, and you don't need documentation
  • However, if police find out information during a crash or traffic stop that you were performing non-essential travel, they could initiate enforcement 

Where can I read the bill itself?

How long will the stay-at-home order be in effect?

  • Until the state of emergency is lifted by the State of Maryland

Which states are currently under stay-at-home orders?

  • As of noon on March 31, at least 30 states, as well as D.C. Many of these states have large populations, including California and New York, meaning more than two thirds of Americans are under some kind of restrictions.
  • You can find an updated list here.

What helps you survive stay-at-home orders, self-quarantine, or social distancing? Let us know how you're surviving.