Maryland’s first-ever statewide Restaurant Week got a boost from Gov. Larry Hogan with an order Friday allowing establishments to increase the limit on indoor dining throughout the state. But some Maryland counties in the D.C. area, including two of the most populous, say they’re sticking with reduced capacity for now.
The governor’s order permitting indoor dining capacity to increase from 50% to 75% goes into effect on Monday, Sept. 21 at 5 p.m., though appropriate social distancing and public health requirements laid out by federal authorities and the National Restaurant Association should still be followed.
The granting of more leniency for indoor dining statewide is a part of the state’s broader Phase Three reopening that he greenlit on Sept. 1.
But as with the previous lifting of restrictions in the state, individual jurisdictions can move more slowly. Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties say they will continue with Phase Two restrictions on indoor dining for now.
Gina Ford, a spokeswoman with Prince George’s County, said the county is sticking with its current guidelines, which limit indoor dining to 50% capacity. “After we evaluate the data coming off the Labor Day weekend, we can make determinations as to how we proceed,” she said, referring to examining the number of new COVID-19 cases after the holiday.
Barry Hudson, a Montgomery County spokesman, told WTOP that the county would not be changing its stance on indoor dining at this point. Under the county’s Phase Two guidelines, indoor dining is limited to 50% capacity.
Chris Trumbauer, a spokesman for Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, said the county would also continue capping indoor dining at 50% capacity for now.
In general, the Maryland counties in the D.C. area have moved more cautiously in reopening than the state as a whole.
However, Howard County, which earlier this month announced plans to beginning easing restrictions under the statewide Phase Three plan, will expand indoor dining starting next week.
“Following the Governor’s announcement this evening, Howard County will move forward with the increase in restaurant indoor dining capacity from 50% to 75%,” County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement. “Today, Howard County’s positivity rate is at 2.67% and has remained below 5% over the last several weeks. Our hospital capacity rates, PPE supplies, as well as testing and contract tracing outcomes have been at levels that allow us to enact the Governor’s new criteria for restaurants.”
Ball added: As we begin Restaurant Weeks in Howard County, this will be good news for our restaurant industry that has been hit very hard over the last six months. I encourage residents of Howard County to continue to patronize our restaurants but adhere to preventative measures — like washing our hands, wearing masks, and physically distancing whenever possible.”
Calvert County’s Board of County Commissioners announced Friday that it will also follow Hogan’s new order and will relax indoor dining restrictions come Monday.
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