State Watch

Baltimore will not lift COVID-19 restrictions despite governor’s order

Baltimore Mayor's Office

The city of Baltimore is not scaling back its coronavirus measures, even as several neighboring counties announced they would completely reopen following Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) decision to lift all capacity restrictions for many businesses.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Brandon Scott (D) in a statement said it was too soon to start lifting restrictions in Baltimore.

“The numbers and public health indicators clearly do not warrant a reopening at the Governor’s pace at this time,” Stefanie Mavronis said. “The Mayor remains confident in Baltimore’s authority to maintain the common sense, local public health mandates currently in place as we continue to navigate this pandemic.”

Baltimore has been restricting indoor dining to 25 percent of capacity and outdoor dining to 50 percent capacity. The city’s religious institutions, gyms and retail shops are restricted to 25 percent capacity.

Neighboring locations, however, are planning to move ahead without capacity limits.

Baltimore County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County all announced Thursday that restaurants and bars, retail establishments, religious institutions and casinos can all open at full capacity.

Earlier this week, Hogan said Maryland would lift many of its coronavirus restrictions, including capacity limits on stores, gyms and restaurants. The state will keep its mask mandate.

Large outdoor spaces such as stadiums and racing facilities, as well as indoor businesses like theaters, live music venues, wedding venues and conference centers, will operate at 50 percent capacity, Hogan said. The new rules take effect Friday at 5 p.m.

While Hogan said local jurisdictions could continue to set and enforce their own policies, his order suspended their existing plans, catching local leaders by surprise and giving them just days to decide whether to follow his lead.

Officials from Montgomery County, a D.C. suburb and the state’s most populous county, will announce its plans on Friday. The county has been one of the most cautious in reopening businesses throughout the pandemic.

In February, Montgomery County became the last D.C.-area jurisdiction to reinstate indoor dining following a holiday surge in cases. Restaurants have a 25 percent indoor capacity limit.

The other major D.C. suburb, Prince George’s County, will increase capacity limits from 25 percent to 50 percent. The county has experienced the most coronavirus cases in the state.

In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said she was considering relaxing restrictions as soon as next week, but would provide an update on Monday.

Tags Baltimore Baltimore Coronavirus covid-19 restrictions gyms Larry Hogan Maryland Muriel Bowser Pandemic Restaurants retail

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