Baltimore City Will Keep COVID-19 Restrictions On Dining, Retail And More, Despite Gov. Hogan's Announcement To Lift Capacity Limits
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott announced Thursday it is too early to lift restrictions this week, even though much of Maryland will get rid of capacity limits on restaurants and retail starting Friday night.
The mayor's office tells WJZ, "The numbers and public health indicators clearly do not warrant a reopening at the governor's pace at this time. The mayor remains confident in Baltimore's authority to maintain the common sense, local public health mandates currently in place as we continue to navigate this pandemic."
City capacity restrictions will remain at 25 percent for indoor dining, gyms and retail. They stand at 50 percent for outdoor dining. The mayor will hold a press conference Friday at 2 p.m. to address his decision.
It's been a roller coaster ride for many Baltimore business owners, like Erica Russo, of The Point in Fells.
"It's a struggle," he said. "As far as business, it's been up and down, we pivoted a million times between carryout and the different percentage of capacities and just trying to stay afloat."
"It just kind of feels like Baltimore City is doing a lot of patchwork," Russo added. "Whether or not it's not giving what we should actually have, or giving us a little small capacity."
Some residents, however, said they agree with the mayor's decision.
"I really don't care for it to really be lifted, because people still aren't really taking the necessary practices and everything like that to be safe," Brenda Summons, of Baltimore, said. "I honestly don't think that the city is 100% ready to have those restrictions lifted."
Others said they think it's time to move forward.
"I just feel like it's getting warm outside, and we want to be outside," Rashelia Dillard, of Baltimore, said.
"They need to open back up," Breonna Styles, of Baltimore, said.
Many businesses are still hanging by a thread. They said lifting capacity restrictions would provide much-needed hope.
"It would give us a little light at the end of the tunnel, it would definitely allow us to start planning for the year," Russo said.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday Maryland will lift capacity limits for outdoor and indoor dining, as well as other establishments starting March 12 at 5 p.m.
For dining, only seated and distanced service will be allowed. Crowding in bars will not be permitted, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.
Capacity limits for retail, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos, personal services, indoor recreational establishments will also lift Friday.
Large outdoor and indoor venues may expand to 50% capacity. This includes conferences and wedding venues, concert venues, conventions, theaters, racing facilities and other outdoor entertainment and sporting venues- including Camden Yards and Pimlico.
The governor said masking, physical distancing and other safety measures will remain in place for all outdoor and indoor businesses and establishments.
For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.
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