BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Restaurants with outdoor dining permits can begin serving patrons in Baltimore outside starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Mayor Jack Young announced Thursday morning.
“After consulting with our Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, and reviewing Baltimore City’s health data on COVID-19, we will move forward with allowing outdoor dining,” Mayor Young said. “I want to thank all of our business owners and restaurant employees for their patience and continued adherence to the use of social distancing and face coverings as we allow for this next step in our reopening.”
This will only include restaurants that are already permitted for outdoor dining, those that do not have it already can apply, beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday.
“Based on the increase we have seen in testing capacity recently, coupled with the decrease we have seen in the overall positivity rate of tests, opening outdoor dining facilities can be done safely, provided appropriate guidance is followed,” Dr. Dzirasa said. “We are continuing to examine the data daily to ensure it is trending in the right direction. Residents dining outdoors should still practice social distancing, and should wear face coverings, except when eating.”
Restaurants must ensure patrons are appropriately distanced with no more than six people at a table, with the exception of members of the same household.
They also must be seated at least six feet away from each other, except for households seated together. The restaurants must use single-use disposable paper menus or sanitize reusable menus between each seating.
The restaurant must also sanitize outdoor tables and chairs between each customer seating.
All staff must be trained in current COVID-19 health and workplace guidelines, and do screening procedures including daily temperature checks of all staff. Face masks for staff are also required when interacting with other employees or customers.
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The mayor also announced the city will review its policy on size limits at religious gatherings within a week. Policies involving private outdoor swimming pools will be reassessed in the next two weeks.
All City-operated pools remain closed.
This move comes as Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday the state would allow restaurants and social organizations to reopen for outdoor dining only.
Gov. Hogan said that restaurants must follow CDC and FDA guidelines when they reopen.
Ocean City, Maryland is also preparing to reopen restaurants safely.