ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman tightened coronavirus restrictions Thursday, closing both indoor and outdoor dining at the county’s restaurants starting next Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 5 p.m.
Customers can get takeout or delivery only. Previously, restaurants were at 25% of indoor dining capacity. Pittman said they will be introducing a bill to stop delivery apps like GrubHub and DoorDash from charging restaurants high fees to use their services.
“I want to note that the restrictions the actions that we’re announcing today are for four weeks, he said. “If at the end of four weeks, it turns out that our hospitals are doing fine and the hospitalization increases did not happen as projected that will tell us something. And it’s likely that we will then be back on the track to reopening. If we’re in worse shape than we are now, then these will have to have to continue.”
Here’s a look at other changes Pittman announced:
- Retail stores are moving to 25% capacity inside. He encouraged people to shop local.
- Fitness centers will also move to 25%. People must wear masks inside.
- Live! Casino will be restricted to a 25% capacity with no food or drink service.
- Personal service establishments and salons will remain open at 25%
- Religious facilities will be limited to one-third capacity indoors. Outdoor services will be limited to 250 people and no limit on drive-thru services.
- Fellowship addiction recovery will be limited to 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.
- Social Club facilities, and these would be the American Legion, VFW clubs and organizations like that, that have facilities are allowed to stay open at 25% capacity, but no food or beverage service.
- Organized sports are already suspended in schools and at Recs and Parks facilities. This will now be extended to all sports facilities.
- Live entertainment venues, including theaters, bingo halls, bowling alleys, poll halls, roller and ice rinks and adult entertainment venues will be closed.
“I’m sorry to bring you this kind of news, but I’m heartened that so many of us believe that this is what we need to do that we need to push these numbers down, we need to protect our healthcare system,” said Pittman. “And at the end of the day we’re going to look back at the end of the pandemic, we’re going to look back on this time, and we’re going to ask ourselves whether there was more that we could have done to save lives.”
Baltimore City took a similar action Wednesday and Prince George’s County Thursday.
Pittman said he doesn’t want to leave restaurant employees, many who make minimum wage, hanging. The county is working with Feed Anne Arundel to provide the money needed to support those who many need food assistance.
As for restaurants, he’s also hoping to support them with a campaign encouraging residents to support their restaurants by buying takeout and with grant money to keep them going and keep employees in their jobs.
“We know that this is going to have an impact on the people who work in these restaurants and the restaurants themselves,” Pittman said. “So we have a package of assistance for them. We have put out $5 million in indirect grants to restaurants and we’re about to start putting out another $5 million.”