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Hogan tightens Maryland indoor dining restrictions

Hogan tightens Maryland indoor dining restrictions
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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that restaurants open for indoor dining in the state would have to further lower their maximum capacity as the state heads in the "wrong direction" in its battle to slow the spread of COVID-19.

At a press conference Tuesday the governor stated that Maryland businesses offering indoor dining must reduce their capacity from 75 percent of normal levels to 50 percent, while discouraging indoor gatherings of more than 25 people, including in private residences.

"Too many residents and businesses have COVID fatigue and have begun letting their guard down," Hogan said Tuesday, adding that existing guidance prohibiting bars from offering standing service, requiring social distancing between patrons and banning large groups was "not being followed."

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"Each of us has to be more cautious, and more vigilant," he added.

The indoor gathering guidance comes weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, possibly throwing a wrench in some families' plans for large holiday dinners.

During the press conference Hogan noted that while Maryland's rate of new infections has sharply risen in recent weeks along with the U.S. rate as a whole, the state remains behind dozens of others in terms of infection numbers per capita.

The governor's handling of the COVID-19 outbreak has been the subject of rare bipartisan praise in recent months, and a poll in September revealed that more than 70 percent of state residents said they approved of Hogan's efforts to combat the virus.

He previously clashed with the Trump administration over the its pandemic response in August when he penned a Washington Post op-ed that sharply criticized the president for downplaying the severity of coronavirus while the White House "failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals."