ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday expanded capacity for indoor dining in Maryland can begin next week.
Effective at 5 p.m. on Monday, September 21, capacity for indoor dining at restaurants may increase from 50 to 75 percent, with appropriate distancing, and following public health requirements consistent with CDC, FDA and National Restaurant Association guidelines.
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Earlier in the day, the governor visited McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar in Annapolis to present a proclamation recognizing Friday, September 18, through Sunday, September 27, as Maryland Restaurant Week.
The governor also spent time in several Annapolis Recovery Zones, where restaurants, bars and shops have adopted creative solutions to get safely back to business.
Gov. Hogan issued the following statement in a news release:
“As we continue with the third and final stage of our recovery, I want to commend our state’s restaurant industry for their incredible resilience this year and for their continued commitment to the health and safety of Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “To celebrate the first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week, I encourage Marylanders to support their favorite local businesses, whether you do so through delivery, curbside pickup, or by dining indoors or outside.”
Marshall Weston is with the Restaurant Association of Maryland. He said this is exactly what restaurants need.
“This is exactly what restaurants need and they were asking for,” he said.
Many restaurants have been depending on expanded, outdoor dining, but have warned colder weather will keep people away.
“People are clamoring to get back to some kind of normalcy,” Randy Marriner, of the Victoria Restaurant Group, said.
The governor’s announcement is subject to local orders.
Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia can expand indoor capacity Monday, as Howard County announced it will move forward with the state, as well as Harford County.
Baltimore County has not yet decided when it will move forward.
“This has become a pattern with the governor where he does not give us any advance notice or collaborate with local leaders on these decisions,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said.
Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City are holding off. They just expanded to 50 percent capacity last week. In a statement, the Mayor’s Office said the City doesn’t have enough data.
City restaurant group owner Tony Foreman said, regardless of orders, public health guidance for social distancing will keep them from reaching 75 percent.
“In order for this to work, you have to follow the restrictions on space. To do that, we can’t get to 50 percent capacity as it is,” he said.
“This whole COVID thing has been a real disaster,” Marriner told WJZ.
Marriner said he had to lay off 140 employees at the start of the pandemic, a sign of how so many restaurants are financially strapped.
“It’s important for any restaurant to have volume in order to survive this pandemic,” he said.