No indoor dining in Maryland’s Phase 2? Disappointed restaurants want change

People gathered outside Fisherman’s Inn in Grasonville, Maryland, which is along the Eastern Shore, to urge Gov. Larry Hogan to act on Monday, June 8, 2020. (Courtesy Restaurant Association of Maryland)

Owners and operators of some restaurants and event spaces in Maryland joined together Monday along the Eastern Shore to urge Gov. Larry Hogan to allow indoor dining to resume. This comes after it was revealed eating indoors was not part of the state’s Phase Two of reopening that began last Friday.

“It’s time for real timelines. It’s time for expectations; it’s time for us to be able to participate in the market and be able to open back up,” said Dereck Janes, general manager of the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club.

Janes believes the state needs to do a better job of communicating its plans and timeline for when indoor dining can resume so he can better prepare. “We can’t just start tomorrow after a message at 5 on a Wednesday,” he said.

His business caters to events, such as weddings, and he said the logistics of resuming those types of gatherings take time. Janes said, right now, his business is one-third the size it was before the pandemic began.

On Monday, Janes and others gathered outside Fisherman’s Inn in Grasonville, Maryland, which is along the Eastern Shore, to urge the Republican governor to act.

Marshall Weston, president of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, which helped organize the event, said restaurants are ready to reopen indoor dining rooms.

“They know how to take care of people, and they take the safety of their employees and their customers seriously,” Weston said.

He said owners and operators are prepared to go above and beyond to keep restaurants sanitized and safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shareese Churchill, a spokeswoman for Hogan’s office, said in a statement that the governor is committed to a safe, gradual and effective reopening of the economy.

“That’s how we were able to resume outdoor dining a little over a week ago with an expanded footprint across the state,” Churchill said.

Moving forward with reopening as it is, Churchill said the state is slowing the spread of the virus, which will allow more people to get back to work soon.

“These small businesses are struggling right now,” said state Sen. Stephen Hershey, a Republican whose district includes Kent, Queen Anne’s, Cecil and Caroline counties.

Hershey’s hope is that the governor will reach out to restaurant owners for their ideas and consider starting indoor dining back up during the next phase of reopening.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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