Maryland Gov. Hogan lifts occupancy limits for restaurants and retailers

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan lifted capacity limits on restaurants, gyms, retail establishments, and public gatherings.

Hogan announced the change at a coronavirus briefing.

“With the pace of vaccinations rapidly rising and our health metrics steadily improving, the lifting of these restrictions is a prudent, positive step in the right direction and an important part of our economic recovery,” said  Hogan. “These steps are made possible because of Marylanders wearing masks, washing their hands, keeping their distance, and following the public health advice, and because our businesses have carefully followed safe reopening practices and public health guidelines to help keep their employees and customers safe.”

Changes are as follows.

  • Capacity limits will be lifted on outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants and bars, retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos, personal services, and indoor recreational establishments. Bars and restaurants will be open for seated and distanced service only – patrons may not stand at a crowded bar. Masking, physical distancing, and other safety protocols will remain in place.
  • Large outdoor and indoor venues may begin operating at 50 percent capacity. This includes theaters, concerts, conventions, wedding venues, racing facilities, and outdoor entertainment and sporting venues. Masking, physical distancing, and other safety protocols will remain in place.
  • Medical adult day care centers may reopen, with facilities able to set appropriate restrictions and safety measures. 
  • Masking requirements remain in place.
  • Working remotely is still encouraged due to signs of more cases among those working in offices.

The change in a state that shares a border with Delaware is expected to lead to more demands for lifting capacity limits in the First State.

At his weekly Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday, Carney said his administration continues to look at ways to ease restrictions while keeping an eye on public health guidelines.

Delaware restaurants are now limited to 50 percent dining capacity, although allowances are given for booths separated by plexiglass or other barriers. 

Restaurant owners say the 50 percent limit often means restaurants operate below that figure once distancing standards are maintained, with profitability difficult if not impossible at that level.

Both Maryland and Delaware have seen a marked decline in Covid-19 cases, with aggressive vaccination programs underway in both states. On Tuesday, Delaware saw a one-day total of new cases below 120, a marked contrast to the 900 seen at the winter peak.

However, cases remain above pandemic lows, with faster spreading Covid-19 variants also entering the picture.

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