ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman is extending COVID-19 restrictions with some adjustments due to a continuation of high case and hospitalizations numbers.
The county will now allow "garden dome" seating at its restaurants. Also the county will now allow limited sports practices or skill sessions, aligning itself with neighboring counties.
"When we announced restrictions in December, we promised to reassess in four weeks. Since that time we have unfortunately seen case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths increase in our county and across the country, and discovered a faster-spreading COVID variant in our community," said Pittman. "We must keep these restrictions in place, and each one of us must continue making the personal sacrifices that will save the lives of our neighbors. At the same time, we are assessing the impacts of restrictions and making adjustments where we can to protect jobs and quality of life without spreading the virus."
Officials also announced additional contact tracing provisions and clarified the Department of Health's right for entry inspections.
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"This is the last, and most deadly, battle in our war against COVID-19, and the end is near," Pittman said. "Our vaccination process is underway and hospitalization projections for the late January peak are nearing a level that is manageable. Let's come together for these final weeks and win this battle decisively."
Anne Arundel County reported a seven-day average case rate of 64.9 per 100,000 residents on Jan. 12.
Hospitalizations also remain at their highest levels and Johns Hopkins Medicine experts say a surge is expected in late January or early February.
Capacity remains at 25% for restaurants, retail businesses and social clubs. Religious facilities can operate at 33% capacity. Social gatherings limits remain at 25 people outdoors and 10 indoors. Indoor ice rinks and roller rinks can remain open at 25% capacity, but masks must be worn at all times.
Winter sports remain suspended, but the practice can happen with a limit of 25 people outdoors. All coaches, participants and spectators shall wear face coverings at all times. Outdoor sports activities, fitness centers and indoor sports facilities shall maintain a log of all persons who participate in the activity or enter an indoor facility.
The "garden domes" now permitted for outdoor seating at restaurants can enclose a single table.
The new executive order also reinforced the right of county health inspectors to gain access to facilities in order to conduct their official inspection duties. Any attempt to prevent that entry or inspection is a violation of the executive order.
Daily COVID health data is available on the Department of Health's website: aahealth.org/daily-covid-19-data.
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