College Park’s mayor wants Prince George’s Co.’s indoor dining ban extended

The mayor of College Park, Maryland, is pushing for an extension of Prince George’s County’s indoor dining ban.

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn said he plans to broach the issue with County Executive Angela Alsobrooks during a call with county and municipality officials on Wednesday.

“As much as it pains me to see our local businesses struggling like this, this is what we need to do to protect the lives and health and safety of our residents and the people who come to College Park,” said Wojahn.

Prince George’s County shut down indoor dining in mid-December and kept outdoor dining at 50% capacity. Restaurants can offer curbside service and takeout. The ban was upheld in court. Restrictions expire on Jan. 16.

“Right now, with numbers continuing to go up, we need to look at continuing that ban on indoor dining for a couple more weeks and at least until the trends start to turn around,” said Wojahn.

College Park, home to the University of Maryland College Park, is usually bustling with activity during the school year, but because of the pandemic, the university’s nearly 31,000 undergraduates have been studying remotely.

Wojahn said College Park is struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We took a hit of about 10% of our annual budget as a city in our revenue,” said Wojahn. “That totals about a $2 million hit with some other things we had to address. Our total budget is about $20 million, and that’s about 10%.”

The city’s losses came mostly from a dramatic drop in revenue from admissions and amusement taxes and hotel and motel taxes collected when people attend large events, such as sporting matches and concerts in College Park.

At this point, Wojahn said, it’s hard to say how much the city’s revenue will be down in 2021.

Wojahn said there is some relief the city can provide for businesses that are struggling through the continued restrictions. Also, the most recent COVID relief bill that passed by Congress offers more aid for local businesses.

“We put into place a relief program with the money we received through the CARES Act last year to provide up to $20,000 for businesses to help them get through these difficult times,” said Wojahn.

He said he’s hopeful that College Park can start to safely reopen in the next three to four months to begin transitioning back into normal life.

“I think it all depends on how successful the vaccine is,” said Wojahn. “How well it’s rolled out, how comfortable people feel once the vaccine is out there.”

He anticipates people will start with small socially distanced events and going to back to restaurants and then go back to larger events, such as Parents Weekend at the University of Maryland in the summer.

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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