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Coronavirus Latest: Baltimore Small Business Owners Demand City Allow Them To Open As Counties Move To Stage Two

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Most of Maryland moved into stage two of the governor's coronavirus recovery plan Friday night. But Baltimore City leaders say they are still not ready.

Mayor Jack Young cited safety concerns, but did allow the city to move into a modified first recovery stage. That means churches can hold outdoor, socially-distanced services for up to 50 people and childcare centers and day camps can open for up to ten people. Hair salons and barber shops can open by appointment only with only five people allowed for every one thousand square feet of space.

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Some small business owners are livid the mayor will not allow them to reopen as Baltimore remains one of the most restricted places in the state—while every neighboring jurisdiction is allowing retail under the governor's stage two guidelines.


Beth Hawks owns Zelda Zen in Fells Point and had her own protest in front of City Hall.

"It is unimaginable that Baltimore has not allowed these small businesses to open throughout the city," Hawks told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. "We cannot be shut down for another beautiful weekend. It's the nail in the coffin."


Mayor Young defended his decision to only allow curbside retail saying he understands business concerns but this is about saving lives. "We're just in phase one so to jump to phase 2 would be counterproductive as far as I'm concerned," the mayor said.

Claudia Towles runs the Amuse Toy store in Fells Point and said her square footage is small so she understands the restrictions, but she blasted the city for the lack of communication—and said more retail should be allowed to reopen.

"Just to say, 'We're not ready,' is not enough. I don't think it shows leadership quite frankly," Towles said. "Considering neighboring counties are opening up, it is only going to hurt us more."

Betsy Wendell who owns Octavia Boutique in Cross Keys pleaded with the mayor. "I hope Mayor Young is listening. Please allow our businesses to open."

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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