You can once again enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting down to eat inside a restaurant in most parts of Maryland.
At 5 p.m. Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order allowed restaurants in much of Maryland to begin indoor dining at 50% capacity. There is no change to the limit on outdoor dining, which is also capped at 50% capacity.
Diners can expect tables to be spaced 6 feet apart, no buffets, all staff to be wearing face coverings, and tables and chairs thoroughly cleaned between every seating.
“They deal with cleaning and sanitizing every single day of the year,” Marshall Weston, president and CEO of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said. “Every employee and every restaurant owner knows what’s at stake, and they have been waiting for the opportunity to welcome their dine-in customers again.”
Weston said about 50% of Maryland restaurants opening for indoor dining are offering reservations, and getting one at peak times might be tough.
“Everyone needs to realize that you can’t dine out at 7 o’clock on Friday and Saturday with everybody else,” Weston said. “In order to really help a restaurant, you have to be willing to go at off times.”
While many restaurants are welcoming guests back inside, others plan to wait a few days before starting the process, Weston said. The extra time will be used to train employees on new protocols and order additional food.
While customers have been ordering carryout and taking advantage of limited outdoor dining, it has only provided restaurants with 25-30% of the revenue they were used to, Weston said. According to the state’s restaurant association, Maryland restaurants have lost about $1.4 billion in sales because of the coronavirus crisis.
“It has been a very long three months,” Weston said. “Our industry has been hit extremely hard.”
In Maryland, 45% of restaurants have closed, while an estimated 25% might shutter permanently. Their closures led to 150,000 restaurant employees to lose their jobs, according to the association.
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