Maryland is stepping up enforcement of coronavirus restrictions for the holiday season. The move comes in the wake of information that infections stemming from friend and family gatherings are fueling a worrisome spike in coronavirus infections in the state and the nation.
The Maryland State Police is expanding its COVID-19 Compliance and Coordination Center and deploying “High Visibility Compliance Units” across the state. The units will be sent to several areas including Bel Air, Bethesda, Fells Point in Baltimore City, Salisbury, Silver Spring, Towson, and Allegany County. The operation will focus on venues that host gatherings, including nightclubs and banquet halls, as well as bars and restaurants.
Additional state troopers will be assigned in every county to work in partnership with local leaders, law enforcement, and other county officials with a focus on educating the public about existing orders and protocols, preventing super-spreading events and taking enforcement actions when necessary.
This statewide operation will kick off on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and continue throughout the holiday season.
The “all hands on deck compliance, education and enforcement operation” is being conducted in addition to the state’s traditional holiday initiative ramping up enforcement of drunk and drug-impaired driving.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan took several, additional steps to clamp down on activities that are believed to spur the spread of the coronavirus. He ordered a 10 p.m. closing time for restaurants, limited capacity at stores and houses of worship to 50%, banned fans from sports stadiums and racetracks, and halted most visitation at hospitals and nursing homes.
And, the Maryland courts entered into the second shutdown for the year on Nov. 12. All civil and criminal trials in Maryland’s district and circuit courts, except for those for which a jury has already been seated, have been suspended through December 31 and other court functions are operating on a limited basis. Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera made the announcement on Nov. 12 in response to the surge of coronavirus cases in Maryland and nationwide.
Maryland’s federal courts also announced a shutdown starting Nov. 16 and lasting for two weeks. All court hearings and proceedings in the federal courts were suspended and some of the proceedings were scheduled to be handled virtually while others were postponed.
That federal court order was extended on Nov. 20 when Chief Judge James K. Bredar ordered that all in-court proceedings and hearings in the U.S. District Court for Maryland be suspended through Jan. 15, 2021 because of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state that has worsened with the holiday season, according to The Daily Record. Once again, some proceedings are being transferred to a virtual format while others are being postponed. Presiding judges are contacting counsel and parties regarding the status of scheduled in-court proceedings.
Penalties for violating Maryland law on public gatherings during COVID-19 crisis
Gov. Hogan has emphasized that Maryland authorities will enforce the COVID-19 inspired orders. “We’re not playing around,” he has said.
A person who knowingly and willfully violates such orders is guilty of a misdemeanor and, if convicted, can be imprisoned for up to one year or a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
If you’ve been charged with violating Maryland’s COVID-19 laws forbidding large gatherings or business closings in Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Glen Burnie, Ocean City, Towson or White Marsh, then you need a Baltimore/Ocean City Coronavirus defense attorney. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick can help. The consultation is free.
The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic. We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. Consultations are free. In addition to criminal defense, we also offer estate planning, wills, domestic and bankruptcy. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 410-886-7613 or through the website.