Some Md. businesses foresee little change with Phase Three reopening

As coronavirus restrictions are set to relax further across most of Maryland under the state’s Phase Three reopening plan, some businesses are not expecting much of a change.

Bars and restaurants were limited to 50% capacity under Phase Two, and Phase Three, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, does not change that.

“Phase Two or Phase Three, it’s all basically the same,” said Julie Verratti, co-founder of Denizens Brewing Company.

Verratti has locations in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, both of which have opted to stay at Phase Two of reopening due to ongoing concerns about the virus. She said it doesn’t matter to her.

“I just don’t see the benefit of moving to Phase Three right now,” said Verratti.

Even if the capacity limit were to be raised for her business under a new reopening phase, Verratti said she wouldn’t have room for more people due to social distancing guidelines.

“You’re still limited by folks needing to be six feet apart,” she said. “You can’t really increase your capacity if you’re already limited by how many tables you’re allowed to have inside your building or outside your building.”

The most significant impact from the new phase will be felt by businesses that were still closed, as all businesses are allowed to reopen under Phase Three.

Under Phase Three, movie theaters and live entertainment can reopen at 50% capacity, or up to 100 people at indoor venues and 250 at outdoor venues.

Places of worship are being allowed to increase capacity from 50% to 75%.

In making the announcement Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan cited declining numbers of positivity in several coronavirus health metrics.

The state’s positivity rate is at 3.39%, down from 26.91% on April 17.

Hogan still warned residents to stay vigilant as the state moves into the next reopening phase.

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