Update on Maryland Jurisdictions' Response to Coronavirus

Posted By: Nicola Y. Whiteman, Esq. Headlines ,

The State of Maryland, local jurisdictions and utilities are exercising an abundance of caution and taking significant steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Below, please find information on closures and policy changes, including temporarily suspending evictions, undertaken at the State and local level in response to coronavirus. We are also posting information to the members only Maryland Government Affairs page at: What's happening in Maryland.
 
MARLAND UTILITIES’ RESPONSE


STATE RESPONSE
On March 16, Governor Hogan announced an emergency order further limiting large gatherings and closing restaurants, bars, fitness centers, theaters and other common public meeting places. Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned and this will be strictly enforced with the deployment of state troopers if necessary. Read the governor’s emergency order. Under Maryland’s declaration of a state of emergency, the state will continue the following additional precautionary measures:

  • PROHIBITION ON EVICTIONS: Governor Hogan has issued an emergency order that prohibits Maryland courts from ordering the eviction of any residential tenant who can show that their failure to pay rent was the result of COVID-19—for example, because of lost or reduced unemployment, or needing to care for a school-aged child—or because they are diagnosed with, or under investigation for, COVID-19. Read the governor’s emergency residential evictions order.
  • As of Monday, March 16, all schools throughout Maryland are closed through Friday, March 27, 2020
  • A mandatory telework policy for all non-essential state employees is in effect.
  • Access to the House and Senate Office buildings and Legislative Services will be restricted to credentialed personnel.
  • Mass gatherings and events of 50 or more people are cancelled or postponed.
  • Senior activity centers will be closed.
  • The cruise ship terminal at the Port of Baltimore will be closed in the coming days.
  • The National Guard has been activated to respond to if the need arises.
  • Prohibition on utility shutoffs for residential customers but see also utility updates above and their actions to suspend shutoffs for all customers.

For a complete list of actions the state will be taking to protect public health and safety, please visit the Department of Health website.

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development: Effective Monday. March 16, department employees will telework until further notice. Staff will be available via email and phone. However, response times may be affected.


PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY RESPONSE
On March 16, County Executive Alsobrooks declared a state of emergency for Prince George’s County. County Government buildings closed to the public on March 16.

Evictions: Prince George's County District Court has ordered a stay of evictions effective March 12. Evictions are stayed for an initial period of 15 days and subject to renewal in 15-day increments until further notice. AOBA staff will work with the County to provide updates on this evolving situation.

MODIFICATIONS TO AGENCY OPERATIONS: See below for updates for agencies of interest to AOBA members.

Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement (DPIE): Effective, Monday, March 16 DPIE will function remotely, delivering all licensing and permitting services online. DPIE will continue to inspect construction and properties.

Department of Housing and Community Development: The Rental Assistance Division of the Housing Authority of Prince George’s County has closed the front office until further notice. Housing Inspectors will continue to inspect vacant units for clients scheduled to move into new units; however, re-inspections of currently occupied units are suspended until safety masks are available.

County Council: The County Council will be conducting committee meetings with County staff only; requiring written testimony for public hearings instead of in-person testimony and implementing teleworking options for Legislative Branch employees.

For the latest updates on COVID-19 in Prince George’s County, please visit the Health Department’s dedicated web page.


MONTGOMERY COUNTY RESPONSE

In addition to the closure of schools and public facilities, most Montgomery County agency offices  are closed or open for business on a limited basis but most operations are continuing. Public activities at county buildings are cancelled between March 14 – 31. For a current list of closures and cancellations, click on the following link. COVID-19 Closures/Cancellations in Montgomery County.

Evictions reminder: The Sixth District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County has ordered a stay of all evictions effective March 12. See March 12 Memorandum and Order. Evictions are stayed for an initial period of 15 days and are subject to renewal in 15-day increments until further notice. AOBA staff will work with the County to provide updates on this evolving situation.

County Council: There is no public access to the Council Office Building March 16 through March 27. Exceptions will be made for members of the media and members of county government and outside agencies. The Council postponed its March 17 legislative meeting in response to the public health directives.

MODIFICATIONS TO AGENCY OPERATIONS: See below for updates for agencies of interest to AOBA members and view COVID-19 Closures/Cancellations in Montgomery County for updates.

  • Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA): Until April 16, inspectors will only conduct inspections of exterior of buildings, yards, common interior areas (to address urgent life and safety violations or comply with a court order), and critical building systems. See DHCA memo on temporary housing inspection protocol.
    • The DHCA offices are closed to visitors. If you need to speak to a DHCA staff person:
      • Send an e-mail to the person you are trying to reach, or send an e-mail to one of the e-mail addresses listed below, or
      • Call the Montgomery County Information Service at 311 (call 1-240-777-0311 if calling from a non-local number) and ask to speak to someone from DHCA. The appropriate DHCA staff person will contact you.
      • View DHCA staff directory.
    • If you need to deliver something to DHCA, you are asked to send materials and documents to DHCA by e-mail, or if necessary, by mail. If you are dropping something off, please put it in the designated box.
    • DHCA e-mail addresses:
  • Department of Permitting Services (DPS): The DPS lobby is currently open to receive payments and to submit plans. Operations continue to be delivered remotely on a telework schedule. DPS strongly encourages AOBA members and all other customers to apply and submit plans electronically and avoid in person visits to DPS. Permit applications and plans will be accepted at the DPS offices for submission only. eServices is open 24/7. Check the DPS website for updates.
  • Montgomery County Planning Department: The Planning Department closed to the public on March 16 but will still be open for business through online services. Montgomery County Planning Board meeting on March 26 will take place via a video conferencing service. Details about this meeting will be made available later. Additional information can be found in the Planning Department’s news release.
  • Department of Environmental Protection (DEP): DEP offices located at 255 Rockville Pike and the Executive Office Building are closed to the public. Services are still being provided through DEP staff teleworking.  Effective Wednesday, March 18, the Transfer Station will open daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. See DEP response to coronavirus.

 

For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus, please visit Montgomery County Health and Human Services. Updates will be also made on the County’s website at: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ and on Facebook and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.