ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Starting Friday, bars, restaurants and other establishments in Maryland will have to close at 10 p.m. as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state continues to increase, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday afternoon.
During a press conference, Hogan announced new actions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus in the state after for the second time this month, the daily case numbers have surpassed 2,000.
Another change Hogan outlined: indoor capacity will also be decreased to 50% at retail businesses, organizations, religious institutions, personal services, bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, skating rinks, fitness centers and social clubs.
Also, a new order will also restrict visitation at hospitals and nursing homes and fans will not be allowed at public stadiums.
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“I want to remind Marylanders that we remain in a state of emergency,” Hogan said.
Masks are still required in all public locations indoors and also required outdoors where social distancing isn’t possible. In Baltimore, masks are required outdoors no matter what.
Restaurants across the state have already felt the financial impacts of the pandemic. Still, the restaurant owners WJZ spoke with following Hogan’s announcement said it’s better to take preventive action because communities can’t afford to lose more businesses.
“Would we rather it be wide open? Yup, of course… but let’s just do what we have to do, make sure everybody’s safe and we’ll be back,” said Brian Recher, who owns multiple restaurants, including Rec Room and Towson Tavern, as well as the Recher Theatre concert venue.
Under the new order, in-person dining will not be allowed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., though carryout and delivery will still be able to operate. Some jurisdictions, including Baltimore, have even more stringent rules. The city has scaled back to 25% capacity.
“It is important to note that the governor was clear that it was the actions of late-night customers that ultimately led to this decision, and it was not the restaurants or the restaurant employees,” Marshall Weston, the president and CEO of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said.
CJ Reskin, the bar manager at 13.5% Wine Bar in Hampden, said they’re trying to prepare for the latest change, adding the constant adjustments have been difficult.
“The flip flop from back and forth, the 25% to 50% has been, you know, a little taxing and a little bit confusing,” he said, “but, you know, we’re trying.”
As temperatures drop, many restaurants across the state have gotten creative with their outdoor seating spaces.
For now, those in the restaurant industry are just hoping for the best outcome.
“Hopefully we can get back sooner than later,” Reskin said. “I’d rather put a halt on it now than have it affect us in the long run.”
The governor said Marylanders must take personal responsibility for their own actions to make the necessary sacrifices to limit our interactions. He said that might sometimes mean not seeing our own family members to protect them and ourselves.
“This is not the flu. It’s not fake news. It’s not going to magically disappear just because we’re all tired of it and we want our normal lives back,” Hogan said during a press conference Tuesday. “We are in a war right now and the virus is winning.”
On Monday, Hogan said he met with Maryland’s congressional delegation and urged them to put partisan politics aside and reach a compromise on the stimulus bill.