Indoor and outdoor dining can reopen for limited capacity starting today in Baltimore, Maryland. This is according to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. Unfortunately, diners only have one hour limit. They also must sign their names upon entering and leaving the restaurant.
Six weeks after shutting down on-premise dining in all city restaurants, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced that eateries can reopen for indoor and outdoor dining at limited capacity beginning at the end of the week.
Scott cited the city’s declining COVID-19 caseload and an decrease in hospitalizations for lifting the ban. Scott spoke at a new conference at Park Height’s Zeta Center. In fact, Baltimore has the lowest seven-day average positivity rate in the state, at 5.65%, Scott noted. He said let’s keep it that way.
Bars and breweries that don’t serve food also will be able to reopen. They shut down by the previous Mayor Bernard C “Jack” Young in November. This is under the new rules.
The loosened restrictions went into effect today at 6 a.m. In fact, restaurants and bars are limiting to 50% capacity outside. Indoor capacity will be limiting to 25%. Therefore, the risk for COVID-19 transmission is far greater inside, according to experts. They say (which I don’t believe is true) is the disease is spread through the air and respiratory droplets.
I’m totally against restaurants that assist with contact tracing efforts. They will maintain a sign in and sign out sheets for guests. No one wants to rush through a meal with the meter ticking so to speak by the Big Brother restaurant hovering over them with that pressure and restriction. It feels like a violation of one’s civil liberties.
However, they have met with a mix of gratitude and grumbles from restaurant owners arguing that the loosening of restrictions comes with a heavy price and creates stifling issues for them. Among them, some have stressed are one-hour time limit would be difficult to manage. In fact, others are saying the capacity restrictions still make operating cost-prohibitive. This is all true. It’s not a boon to business and is anything that remotely resembles business as usual.
Scott has issued the following guidelines on other leisure activities in addition to the new rules on dining. With 10 people or fewer, gyms can hold socially distanced classes. Masks are to be worn for participants. Bowling alleys, indoor pools, and VFW posts are indoor recreation sites that can reopen at 25% capacity. With the exception of adult entertainment facilities as well as hookah and cigar lounges.
Retail operations may resume for tobacco shops. They are not for on-premise consumption. Moreover, outdoor gatherings have limits to 25% capacity. Unfortunately, indoor gatherings are capped at 10%. These restrictions are draconian and very unfair to the public and the business owners.