A group calling itself ReOpen Maryland used social media to organize a demonstration Saturday, filling downtown Annapolis with a parade of cars, in protest of restrictions on the economy brought about by the governor in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an online petition, the group said it wants Gov. Larry Hogan to immediately reopen business, educational and religious institutions.
The parade of cars on State and Church circles started about noon and was slow and orderly. Protesters held signs out their car windows, and offered comments at a distance to keep within social distancing rules designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hogan’s office gave no comment on Saturday’s protest in Annapolis and the demands of participants.
Meanwhile, Maryland’s Republican state delegates sent a letter to Hogan, asking him to consider a regional approach to relaxing the restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We fundamentally believe that what works in one region of the state may not be applicable to others,” members of the House of Delegates Republican Caucus wrote in their letter Saturday.
They wrote that there are lower infection and hospitalization rates in rural areas, such as Western Maryland, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore.
The Republican lawmakers also expressed concern about the power of county health officers and asked to create “local review boards” that would have oversight over the health officers. Hogan previously issued an executive order that gave health officers the authority to enforce the state stay-at-home order and other directives.
The lawmakers also asked the governor to end the bans on recreational boating and golfing.
The letter was sent after the governor spoke with House Republican leaders and Republican senators on Friday.
Mike Ricci, a spokesman for the governor, said the calls with state lawmakers lasted a combined 75 minutes.
“We’re all on the same page: we want to get Maryland open again as soon as it is safe,” Ricci said in a statement. “We appreciate these ideas, and will continue coordinating with legislators as the governor prepares to unveil the state’s roadmap to recovery.”
During the Friday news conference, Hogan told his critics that he understood the frustration caused by the restrictions but emphasized they are necessary.
“I completely understand why people are anxious to get things going. I want to get our economy back and get things opened up as quickly as possible just as much as anybody does,” Hogan said. “But we’re also going to have to do that in a safe manner.”
Hogan noted that even President Donald Trump’s plan suggests “14 days of consistent numbers going down” before easing restrictions.
The governor has spent the past several days saying it’s too soon to start easing restrictions in Maryland, noting that positive tests, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise. He has pledged to offer a plan toward easing restrictions in the week ahead. He intends to call it: “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery.”