Officials in Charles County, Maryland, say they are moving to expand indoor dining in the county in line with new actions by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to ease coronavirus restrictions on restaurants.
Starting at 5 p.m. Monday, indoor dining capacity limits in Charles County will go from 50% to 75%.
The Charles County Board of Commissioners met in a special session Monday morning to approve the measure. Before the vote, commissioners heard from the county’s health officer Dr. Dianna Abney and also considered legal advice.
“I ask our residents to support our local restaurants, but to continue practicing frequent handwashing, wearing a face covering, and maintaining a safe social distancing,” Commissioner President Reuben B. Collins II said in a statement.
Charles County currently has the second-highest positivity rate in the state of Maryland — 4.49% — just behind neighboring Prince George’s County’s 4.72%, according to Sept. 20 figures from the Maryland Department of Health. However, both rates are below a 5% positivity rate cited by the World Health Organization as the benchmark for reopening. The statewide positivity rate is 2.75%.
Hogan announced the expansion of indoor dining last week, about two weeks after he announced jurisdictions across the state could begin moving into Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan. Phase Three of the state’s plan allow most businesses to reopen with restrictions and lifts other restrictions.
However, individual jurisdictions were given the OK to move more slowly at reopening.
Charles County now joins Howard County in expanding indoor dining. However, several other Maryland counties in the D.C. area have said they will continue restricting indoor dining.
Representatives for Prince George’s, Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties have said they will all stick with a 50% capacity limit on indoor dining.
- Coronavirus FAQs: What you need to know
- Tips to avoid contaminating or catching ailments from co-workers
- Sign up for news alerts from WTOP
- Maryland reaches new lows in key COVID-19 metrics, Gov. Hogan announces
- Indoor and outdoor performance venues, movie theaters to reopen across Anne Arundel Co.
- Rise in COVID-19 cases at U.Md. dorm causes residents to restrict activities for 2 weeks
- Montgomery Co. will allow outdoor live performances; audience limited to 50
- Maryland officials warn of lengthy timeline on coronavirus vaccine