BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore’s mayor Brandon Scott announced new COVID restrictions Wednesday around the city as cases and hospitalizations continued to spike, including closing both indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants.
Scott focused on decreasing capacity at some city businesses, while completely closing others. He also upped restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings at both public and private facilities.
Here are the newest restrictions announced Wednesday that will go into effect Friday at 5 p.m.:
- Indoor gatherings at public and private facilities — private homes and public space — will be limited to no more than 10 people.
- Outdoor gatherings, public and private facilities, will be limited to no more than 25 people.
- Sports gatherings and facilities controlled by city Parks and Recs will be prohibited.
- Religious facilities shall not exceed 25% of that facilities maximum capacity.
- Retail stores and malls will be capped at 25% of the maximum capacity.
- Indoor recreation will be closed — including cigar and hookah bars as well as adult entertainment venues.
- Outdoor recreation establishments will be capped at 25% of their maximum capacity.
- Personal service establishments will be capped at 25% of the maximum capacity. Staff at these facilities must wear face coverings at all times.
- Indoors services must be provided on an important-only basis and a log must be kept with the names of customers and staff providing services.
- Fitness centers will be capped at 25% of their maximum capacity.
- The casino will be capped at 25% of the maximum capacity with NO food or drink.
- Museums, the zoo and aquarium will also be capped at 25% maximum capacity
- Theaters and outdoor entertainment venues will be close.
- Restaurants and other food service establishments will be closed to indoor and outdoor dining. However, carry out, delivery and drive-thru service may continue.
“We know that our restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by this pandemic,” Scott said, adding, “the city has been proactive in seeking ways to support our restaurant community.”
Grants totaling $5.5 million dollars were awarded to the city to support small businesses. The city has given 235 grants totaling $2.8 million to restaurants, carry-out establishments, bars and taverns in the city. Thirty percent of these grants went to restaurants that received zero federal or state funds intended to provide relief to small businesses.
An additional $6.5 million in grants will be awarded starting next week by the state of Maryland to support Baltimore’s restaurants and public markets, Scott said.
“When it comes to the wellbeing of our residents, I am not afraid to do the right thing over the popular one. This is about saving lives. Nothing more, nothing less,” the mayor said, “and instituting these restrictions today for the public health of the residents of Baltimore. I am committing to you, the people of Baltimore, that I will be here every week to bring you the necessary information as we continue to battle this pandemic with the hope that you will make informed decisions for you and your family.”
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Scott, 36, who was sworn-in Tuesday, was joined by other city officials to discuss the latest on COVID-19 in the city.
“Baltimore, we’re still in a pandemic. And, to be quite honest, some of us aren’t acting like it,” Scott added. “I know the COVID fatigue is real and has begin to settle in on many, but we must remain vigilant. Please be very clear. COVID doesn’t get tired. COVID doesn’t take days off and COVID doesn’t care how you want to go back to normal. It is actively looking to infect us all.”
Baltimore City has reported a total of 26,897 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 585 deaths. The city saw 304 new cases overnight and 11 new deaths were reported. The state of Maryland saw its highest hospitalizations ever Wednesday.
He called out his generation, people between the ages of 20 and 39, for driving the numbers.
“We may not be the ones dying, but the reality is that we can spread it to others,” Scott said. “Think about our parents and grandparents generation. Think about how much they are dying by the hundreds and your inability or unwillingness to make the sacrifices necessary, or act responsibly as an adult, can mean that your grandmother, your father, your grandfather will not be here for you. That’s how serious this is.”
“That hookah bar can wait. That brunch can wait,” he continued. “We have to keep our family and our people that we love alive. If we want to stop the surge in cases, we have to be cautious and change our behaviors.”
He said Tuesday his goal was to help bring the city through two pandemics: coronavirus and violence.
“I am not naïve to the challenges we face,” Scott said Tuesday. “You have trusted me to be your mayor in this critical moment. Through fresh thinking, transparency professionalism, integrity, and hard work, we can meet these challenges.”
As for the COVID pandemic, Scott said he will not waiver or hesitate to make decisions that save lives.
“I want to ensure that every Baltimorean wears a mask. I want to ensure that every Baltimorean can get tested and have access to the vaccine, our decisions will not always be easy, and often will feel harsh, but they will always be guarded by the advice of public health officials,” he said.
City officials again urged residents not to travel for the holidays, continue to wear masks and social distance.