As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in Maryland and across the country, Anne Arundel County has announced it will restrict indoor dining for the next month and take other measures aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
The county recorded 341 coronavirus cases Thursday and has a seven-day average of 47.7 cases per 100,000 residents.
In response to the worsening case numbers, County Executive Steuart Pittman announced that a new set of restrictions will go into effect on Wednesday, Dec. 16 and will last until Jan. 13, 2021.
Under the new restrictions, restaurants and food service vendors will only be allowed to offer takeout, delivery or curbside pickup.
Earlier Thursday, Prince George’s County announced new restrictions on indoor dining and tightened capacity limits on retail stores.
The county announced that in order to help restaurants during four weeks the restrictions will be active, any establishment that received money under the Restaurant and Food Service Grant Program will get an additional $7,000 before the end of the year.
The county has also waived the annual fee due in February for restaurants and has committed $1 million to Feed Anne Arundel — a partnership of local restaurants — the Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children, Youth & Families, Anne Arundel Connecting Together, and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation.
“These restrictions will be a burden, and I had hoped to avoid them,” Pittman said. “But we cannot ignore the projected hospitalization numbers that will result from today’s case rates, nor can we let those numbers increase further with continued community spread.”
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Retail stores, indoor gyms, personal service establishments (such as salons) and casinos will have their indoor capacity reduced to 25% of their maximum capacity.
Religious centers will have their capacity reduced to 33% of their maximum. Outdoor services for Christmas, Hanukkah or other recognized religious holidays will be allowed with attendance capped at 250, as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.
Indoor theaters, performance venues, bingo, bowling alleys, pool halls, roller rinks and indoor ice rinks will be closed under the new order.
Pittman said he will be contacting Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan soon and said he expects the governor will be supportive in taking action to curb the spread of the virus.
“We are in the midst of a dangerous surge,” said county health officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman. “By slowing the spread over the next few months, more people will be alive and able to get the vaccine when it becomes available. These actions will decrease the stress on our hospitals and keep more people from getting sick.”
Pittman also said if conditions do not worsen as current projections predict, the county will get back to the process of reopening. However, if case counts are still spiking, the restrictions may have to be extended.
“We’ll have data in a few weeks — we’ll know in a couple of week whether these actions have helped,” he said.
Below is a full list of the modifications set to take effect on Dec. 16:
- Personal Services Establishments (hair stylist, nail salons, barbers) — decreased to 25% of that establishment’s maximum occupancy.
- Religious facility — decreased to 33% of that religious facility’s maximum occupancy. A religious facility may hold outdoor services for Christmas, Hanukkah or other recognized religious holidays with a gathering limit of no more than 250 persons, provided the facility requires strict adherence to the mandatory health and safety protocols.
- Retail establishment — decreased to 25% capacity.
- Fellowship addiction recovery — decreased to 25% capacity or 50 persons, whichever is less.
- Food-service establishments located in food courts in indoor shopping malls — restricted to carryout, delivery or curbside service only.
- Food-service establishments — restricted to carryout, delivery or curbside service only. No indoor or outdoor seating is permitted.
- Food distribution sites (food pantries, etc.) that serve or donate food to people in need at no cost may continue to operate subject to mandatory health and safety protocols.
- Social clubs including American Legion posts, VFW posts, and Elks Clubs, restricted to 25% capacity and no food or beverages service.
- Indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people remain prohibited. Outdoor social gatherings of more than 25 people remain prohibited.
- “Social gatherings” does not include activities, facilities or venues that have a specific capacity limit or are ordered closed under this Local Executive Order No. 39.
- “Social gatherings” includes family gatherings, parties, cookouts, parades, festivals, conventions, fundraisers, flea markets, yard sales, and other gatherings that are not associated with operating or patronizing a business that sells merchandise from a location with a posted Maximum Occupancy.
- All organized sports play or practice is suspended, including private schools, and school or church gyms.
- Fitness Centers are restricted to 25% capacity and may not conduct classes or group fitness activities; all staff and customers must wear face coverings at all times.
- Gaming Facilities (casinos) are restricted to 25% capacity and no alcohol or food service except for carryout, delivery or curbside service.
- Indoor Theaters are closed.
- Indoor or outdoor venues for live performances are closed.
- Bingo, bowling alleys, pool halls, roller rinks, and indoor ice rinks shall close.
- All outdoor sporting venues including professional, semi-professional, amateur, recreational, collegiate, high school and motor sports venues are closed.
- Adult Entertainment venues are closed.
- Cigar and hookah lounges are closed but may sell retail products.
- Local annual license fees for Foodservice Establishments are waived and deemed paid for calendar year 2021.