BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City’s ban on indoor dining and bar service is now in effect. The health commissioner says it is necessary after the daily number of new cases has more than doubled since the beginning of the month.

Out of health concerns, Max’s Taphouse in Fells Point never opened for indoor service—even when it was allowed— relying on outdoor service only.

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“It’s a juggling act that all of us unfortunately are faced with,” said Max’s Brina Furman. “We didn’t feel like it was the appropriate time to bring people into the building. We know the rate of transmission is just higher indoors no matter what precautions we take and so we just decided we weren’t ready to do it.”

 

Many Baltimore bars and restaurants will be in deeper financial pain with the rollback. “Unfortunately, everyone is in a really tough place. The scariest part of it is we don’t know when it’s going to end,” Furman said.

Baltimore’s liquor board is enforcing the city’s new order. They have cited more than 20 restaurants since the pandemic started for a range of issues.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

You can read more about some of those citations by clicking here.

“We have situations where licensees aren’t following the social distancing guidelines. We’ve seen individuals—and this is prior to the current executive order—where they had indoor consumption when they weren’t allowed,” said the liquor licensing board’s Thomas Akras.

The liquor board works with the police, fire and health departments and has inspectors on the job seven days a week. One shift runs from noon to 8pm, another from 6pm until 2am.

“We have a total of nine inspectors and one chief inspector. Our liquor board staff will be out there conducting enforcement activities along with other city agencies. It’s my hope that all these licensees are in compliance,” Akras told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren.

Anne Arundel County is banning indoor dining and bar service after 10pm and issuing $500 fines for first-time violators.

 

In Ocean City, Maryland the mayor told WJZ indoor dining can continue—despite fast-rising cases and the closure of some restaurants after staff tested positive.

 

Researchers with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s PolicyLab have been tracking cases in more than 500 counties nationwide and their data shows the Baltimore area has reason to be concerned.

Their modeling, in part, uses data from cell phones. They believe Baltimore County’s cases could jump in the next four weeks.

You can look at their models by clicking here.

“A lot of these areas in the Mid-Atlantic where we’ve benefitted from reasonable numbers in recent weeks have to now be on alert,” said Dr. Brian Fisher with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Maryland recorded 930 new cases on Friday.

Maryland Department of Health coronavirus dashboard for Friday, July 24, 2020

The state’s positivity rate—the percentage of people testing positive—rose .13 percent to 4.69 percent.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.