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Reopening Maryland: Indoor Dining Will Be Allowed Friday As More Coronavirus Restrictions Lifted

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Maryland residents can now eat inside at restaurants statewide after Gov. Larry Hogan announced he would be lifting more coronavirus restriction earlier this week.

Outdoor amusement parks and rides, mini-golf and go-kart tracks were also able to reopen. Outdoor pools were able to increase their capacities to 50 percent.

"We've got a lot of regular guests that we haven't seen for a long time," Nathan Elder, General Manager of Brick Oven, said.

However, Baltimore City will not move into Phase 2 of the State's recovery plan and won't allow indoor dining. Mayor Jack Young did announce he would allow non-essential retail to reopen at 50% capacity Friday.


The City's health commissioner said while positivity rates are improving, they have not been consistent in every zip code.

"Baltimore City needs to continue to expand its testing capacity and specifically all of the necessary support staff to follow the state in reopening at the same pace that they are setting," Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, Health Commissioner of Baltimore City, said.

Many establishments, however, have been critical of Mayor Young. They said the reopening process has been detrimental to business.

Beth Hawks owns Zelda Zen in Fells Point. As a retail store, she is now allowed to open at 50 percent capacity. But she said restaurants are also a signature part of the popular waterfront strip.

"We needs restaurants, bars and retail. We all work together. That's what we need," she said.

Restaurants like Iron Rooster in Baltimore City can't yet move forward with reopening indoor dining.

"Takeout's happening, but that's about it," Kyle Algaze, Owner of Iron Rooster, said.

While the governor green-lit indoor dining at 50 percent capacity at 5 p.m. on Friday, those decisions are ultimately up to local leaders.

Restaurants will be required to follow strict public health requirements and CDC guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic, the governor said at a news conference in Annapolis Wednesday evening.

The health department is issuing guidelines to restaurants on how to safely reopen, Deputy Secretary of Health Services Fran Phillips said. Among the steps are requiring customers and staff members to wear masks as much as possible, keeping no more than six people at a table unless they live together and keeping buffets and self-serve options closed.

"We don't know, and that's been the biggest issue is our government officials are also having trouble with communication," Algaze said.

Until then, Algaze said they're preparing.

"When we go to indoor dining, we won't see tables close together anymore," he said.

In the childcare business, the state is now allowing all childcare facilities to reopen, but class sizes are capped at 15.

"We're definitely headed in the right direction. I'm just concerned if the capacities don't increase, we're going to come to a standstill," Richard Huffman, CEO of Celebree Schools, said.

In addition, indoor gyms, studio fitness activities, casinos, arcades and malls will be able to reopen on June 19.

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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