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New COVID-19 restrictions raise questions about the safety of outdoor dining during pandemic

Posted at 8:33 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 23:14:13-05

BALTIMORE — During a recent news conference, Governor Larry Hogan said he disagreed with local leaders on their decision to shutdown outdoor dining.

The governor said his team of experts told him from the very beginning outdoor dining is safe.

“I don’t know where that decision came from,” Governor Hogan said.

Mayor Brandon Scott, who shutdown outdoor and indoor dining in Baltimore city responded to the governor’s comments, defending his decision, saying “this [decision] has been guided by science”.

He said he’s taking the advice from health experts at Johns Hopkins, who say any activity that requires people to remove their mask is dangerous. Scott also said Hopkins supports his decision.

“We have to understand that this is about saving lives,” he said.

“This is a respiratory virus. It’s spread by close contact. it’s spread by enclosed spaces with no ventilation.,” said Neysa Ernst, who is a nurse manager at Johns Hopkins.

For that reason, she said eating outside is safer than indoors, especially when CDC guidelines are followed.

“With the right ventilation and the right social distancing and the right protocols,” she added.

But now that its colder, many restaurants have put up outdoor tents closed on all sides with no ventilation. Ernst said that’s when it gets risky.

“If you’re just putting up an outdoor tent with no airflow, then you are not solving problem,” she said.

Ernst says it’s important to remember with whatever you choose, there will always be a risk of getting the virus.

“It’s a risk to do anything besides leave your home at this point,” she said.