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OAKLAND — Garrett County officials met recently with local real estate agents to discuss different ways to reopen rental units when given the green light by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Hogan’s recovery plan will roll out in a series of stages. The first stage is allowing “low risk” activities to begin, followed by, as benchmarks of progress are met, allowing “medium risk” and eventually “high risk” activities to take place. The governor’s stated goal is to gradually and responsibly reopen the economy while protecting the public health.

Depending on the plan submitted, the companies would fall in either the low or medium risk category, said County Health Officer Robert Stephens. The plans included discussions of initial cleaning and sanitation, ongoing cleaning and sanitation of indoor and outdoor environments and messaging to renters and owners regarding risks.

“We had a good meeting, discussing various options to open back up as quickly as we can in a safe way,” said Stephens in a news release. “We will follow Gov. Hogan’s guidance to determine the time to implement his Roadmap to Recovery plan. Our local vacation rental agencies have been very responsive. They have done a great deal of work to be prepared for when the governor will relax travel restrictions. It is our mutual desire to assure the health of our community.”

As the state moves closer to implementing the plan, Hogan will issue guidances to counties on what can be opened up during each stage of the process, and county officials will then be responsible for interpreting what said guidances mean for their county.

“It’s important to remember that the recovery stages have not yet begun,” said Stephens. “That means, if you own a vacation rental property in Garrett County and you rent it while the travel restrictions are in place, you could receive a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.”

The recovery plan calls for Marylanders, especially older and more vulnerable populations, to stay at home, avoid crowds and practice physical distancing as much as possible.

Garrett officials have also met with local law enforcement agency officials to discuss their continued enforcement of state and local orders that have been issued during the Maryland state of emergency.

“We appreciate the cooperation and understanding from our local business community,” said County Administrator Kevin Null in a news release. “This is a difficult situation that will take a lot of coordination to see through to the other side.”

Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.

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