BALTIMORE — Mayor Brandon Scott made a concerted effort, asking people to support local businesses as tighter restrictions are set to go into effect today at 5 p.m. The restrictions, part of an amended Phase 1, is aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
During a press conference Friday morning Scott asked Baltimoreans to order a meal from their favorite restaurants as a way to show their support.
"We have to wrap our arms around these businesses and their workers in every way possible right now, and I want them to know that we’re going to support them,” he said."
On Tuesday, Scott announced a number of new restrictions aimed aimed at slowing the virus’ spread, including closing indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and imposing 25% capacity restrictions at religious facilities, retail stores, malls and personal service establishments.
During Friday's press conference Scott was joined by three restaurant owners who applauded the new measures and echoed the mayor's call for support.
"If you can get carry out, post photos and tag us so that we know we’re still making you happy from a far," said Samantha Claassen, owner of Golden West in Hampden.
"It's important because it’s bigger than just the actual food that you’re buying," said Terrence Dickson, owner of New Tera Cafe. "It’s communities that you're stabilizing and lives you change."
"We're not just asking you to support Land of Kush," said owner Gregory Brown, "We're asking you to support all businesses so we can all be here in the future."
Scott has faced heavy criticism for his decision to implement the restrictions. He said it was not made lightly.
“I want every single business owner, consumer and Baltimorean to know that these restrictions are for the health and safety of our community. Period,” he said. “We are in a life-or-death situation; these decisions that we make today, no matter how tough they are, will determine whether community members will survive or not. That’s what this is about. This was not a popular decision but it’s the right one.”
Health commissioner Dr. Letita Dzirasa said the city is seeing roughly 250 new cases per day, adding community transmission of the virus is widespread. The city’s hospitals are at 88% capacity. Dr. Dzirasa also said half of the people who test positive for the virus don't have symptoms.
“There are many people right now who are moving around Baltimore City interacting with their friends and coworkers feeling fine but spreading the disease unknowingly,” she said.
Friday also came with the announcement of a new COVID-19 testing site in northwest Baltimore. The new site at the Zeta Center located at 4501 Reisterstown Road opened this morning. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. You do not need an appointment or referral.
The opening of the new site is part of the city’s plan to move some COVID-19 testing indoors as winter nears.
It's important to note all three speakers representing their perspective restaurants received some form of monetary aid.
For those who have not received aid, the city said it is working on giving out more money next week.
"At this very moment BDC is working around the clock to issue a new round of restaurant grants next week to support our local restaurants," said Colin Tarbert, President and CEO of Baltimore Development Corporation. "At this very moment BDC is working around the clock to issue a new round of restaurant grants next week to support our local restaurants. We expect to support more than 300 restaurants in the city public markets with approximately $6.5 million of funding."
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said officers will be patrolling the city to enforce Scott’s executive order on Friday and in the days to come.