Live concert venues may not benefit from Md. restrictions being lifted

While many businesses in Maryland are celebrating the fact that coronavirus restrictions are being relaxed, live concert venues may not feel the same way because they have been affected differently during the pandemic.

Venues, such as Merriweather Post Pavilion in Howard County, rely heavily on money from big crowds purchasing food, drinks and merchandise.

That is why the venue will remain closed, even though it would be allowed to open at 50% capacity under the state’s new rules.

“We’ve got to be able to have 80%, 90% or 100% of the seats filled in order for us to make it a worthwhile financial endeavor,” said Merriweather spokeswoman Audrey Fix Schaefer.

Plus, Schaefer said there aren’t enough bands touring right now to fill a schedule.

“We don’t have the inventory, so to speak,” she said. “What really needs to happen is for everybody to get vaccines. The live concert industry is a post-vaccine industry.”

Citing improving COVID-19 health metrics and increasing vaccinations, Gov. Larry Hogan said that Maryland would ease restrictions on restaurants and other businesses Friday at 5 p.m.

Larger outdoor and indoor venues will be able to expand to 50% capacity. That includes conference halls, wedding venues, theaters and sporting arenas like Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles baseball team plays.

Local officials will not have to loosen restrictions in line with the state limits, but Hogan urged the state’s 24 jurisdictions to follow the state’s lead to avoid a confusing patchwork of regulations.

Capacity limits will be lifted on outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants and bars, though customers will still need to be seated and distanced.

Capacity limits also will be lifted for retail businesses, religious facilities, personal services like hair and nail salons and indoor recreation establishments like casinos and bowling alleys.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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