BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on Wednesday announced the loosening of a number of COVID-19 restrictions in the city effective later this month.
Starting March 26 at 6 a.m., indoor dining will be allowed to resume at 50% capacity and outdoor dining will be allowed to increase to 75% capacity. Outdoor tents must be open on all four sides.READ MORE: Martinez Comes Off COVID List, Hits 3 HRs As Red Sox Top O's
Also allowed to operate at 50% capacity are:
- Religious institutions
- Personal services facilities
- Retailers and malls
- Indoor recreation sites and establishments other than hookah and cigar lounges (which can operate retail portions of businesses at 50% capacity)
- Outdoor recreation establishments
- Fitness centers (classes will be limited to 10 participants or 25% capacity)
Theaters and outdoor entertainment venues will be allowed to live-stream performances. Indoor theaters will be limited to 50% capacity or 100 people.
Breaking: Baltimore City relaxes some capacity limits starting Friday, March 26th—still not fully aligning with the state. @wjz
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) March 17, 2021
The city plans to review health metrics more frequently — every two weeks instead of every four weeks — to make decisions about further reopening steps, Scott and Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said during a news conference.
“We had a four-week period and we said that we were going to monitor the data through that four-week period,” Scott said. “We did that, talked with the health commissioner, and decided to move in the direction that we’re doing.”
Watch Mayor Brandon Scott’s Full News Conference Below:
Barley’s Backyard in Fells Point has been open at 25% capacity. Alana Masciocchi, the marketing manager, said they’re doing pretty well, but especially on weekends, they fill up fast.
“Inside, we’re looking to have more people,” Masciocchi said. “I screamed. I was so excited.”READ MORE: 22-Year-Old Man Dies After Being Shot In Head, Chest In NE Baltimore
Not everyone, though, is ready. Poppy & Stella Fells Point said it doesn’t feel like it can safely accommodate any more customers right now.
“With how small our stores are, we probably won’t change our capacity or go to 50% just yet,” Emma Dunbar, of Poppy & Stella Fells Point, said.
But everyone agrees, for businesses struggling to stay afloat, this is a lifeline.
“A lot of people haven’t opened back up yet, because they’re not confident enough to open at 25%. So, 50% just puts it at that point where we’re like, we can do it,” Masciocchi said.
Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan lifted capacity limits for indoor and outdoor dining entirely, though local jurisdictions are allowed to have more stringent rules. Hogan’s order also removed limits on retail, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos and others.
A mask mandate remains in effect statewide.
Following Hogan’s announcement, Scott said last Thursday it was too early to lift restrictions in the city.
Scott, who got a single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from Dzirasa following Wednesday’s news conference, also issued a warning about gatherings for St. Patrick’s Day.
“Do not act a fool today,” he said, “because you might kill somebody.”
The mayor also said he felt this was the right step for the city even as surrounding jurisdictions align with the statewide thresholds.MORE NEWS: Maryland Weather: Most Of The Region Could See Severe Storm Sunday Evening
“When people get sick across this region and state, they end up in our hospitals, meaning they are putting our residents who work in those hospitals at risk of COVID,” he said.