- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Regional officials delivered more coronavirus-related bad news Tuesday, with Metro announcing reductions in subway service, and Maryland and Virginia reporting an uptick in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority on Tuesday asked riders to stay home and not to travel unless absolutely necessary, as the agency prepared to cut service starting Wednesday.

“As members of our community stay home from work, school and social gatherings — following the critical emergency guidance of Governors [Larry] Hogan and [Ralph] Northam and Mayor [Muriel] Bowser — Metro will reduce service and implement measures to reduce risk for employees and the public,” Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a written statement.

“To be clear, Metro intends to be there to provide service for essential trips in our community — as long as it is safe and appropriate to do so. If everyone does their part and stays home whenever possible, Metro will be there for hospital staff and other heroes who need us at this unprecedented moment in our lives,” Mr. Wiedefeld said, adding that ridership has fallen 70%.

Beginning Wednesday:

Metro will operate trains from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Trains will run every 15 minutes on each line at all times, including the Red Line.

⦁ Metrobus will run on a Sunday schedule, with supplemental service on selected routes. Bus drivers will skip stops if the bus becomes crowded in an effort to follow recommendations for social distancing.

⦁ MetroAccess subscriptions have been canceled. Customers with a critical need to travel should make a reservation by calling 301-562-5360.

Metro’s online trip planner and other third-party apps may not reflect the schedule change.

Officials in Maryland and the District on Monday announced the closures of bars, restaurants, theaters and fitness centers, as well as bans on gatherings of more than 50 people.

On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan postponed the state’s April 28 primary election until June 2. However, he said a vote-by-mail system will be used for the April 28 special election to fill the 7th Congressional District vacated by the death of Elijah E. Cummings.

Mr. Hogan said Maryland has confirmed 57 cases of the coronavirus, a 54% increase from the day before.

“It would endanger public health to allow thousands of people to assembly in places like schools and senior centers which are already closed under the state of emergency, and it would put Marylanders at risk, especially the poll workers and election judges, most of whom are retirees and in the most vulnerable population,” he said at a news conference.

In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam told residents to avoid non-essential public gatherings of 10 people or more, directed vulnerable populations to self-quarantine, and ordered all restaurants, gyms and theaters to limit their customer capacity to 10 people or fewer, or close.

He said there are now 67 coronavirus cases in the commonwealth, with one in Charlottesville, and 48 pending cases. Two men, both in their 70s, have died of the disease in the southeastern area of the state.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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