BALTIMORE — For months, the pandemic has shut down Little Italy, pushing “Baltimore’s Most Delicious Neighborhood” to it curbs and sidewalks, and Amicci’s was no different.
“I had my staff lined up. My tables set up. I was ready to go last Friday at five o’clock,” said Owner Scott Panian after the city elected to keep its restaurants closed to indoor dining last week. “I was devastated. I went into this morning thinking, ‘Whatever happens, happens.' So deep down, I was hoping, but I was unsure.”
But now, as COVID-19 has loosened its grip on the city with less new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Mayor Jack Young has announced he’s loosening the restrictions.
“I have made the decision to expand re-openings effective at 5pm today,” said Young. “This means that businesses like restaurants, bars, gyms and cultural institutions can reopen at 50-percent capacity.”
Originally, the mayor had suggested the second phase of his re-openings would limit restaurants and other businesses to just 25-percent capacity, but as the coronavirus’ spread has diminished, he opted to follow the state’s guidelines potentially re-igniting the city’s tourism and hospitality sector.
“Our tourism and hospitality industry has been most impacted in terms of the pandemic so we’re really excited to get our restaurants open, our attractions open, the Horseshoe Casino reopened,” said Baltimore Development Corporation President & CEO Colin Tarbert. “That represents thousands of employees that haven’t been able to work and so bringing them back to work of course will help them as well.”
Including the rest of Scott Panian’s staff here at Amicci’s, which will now be seating customers at every other table with all of the social distancing and safety protocols to help insure both the health of its customers and its employees in the process.
“The fact that he thinks we’re safe to open takes a little bit of a load off my mind, because as an owner, its scary,” said Panian. “It’s more than dollars and cents. I worry about my staff. I worry about my family so, yes, I’m trusting the mayor’s judgment that it’s time to go.”
In addition to the restaurants, under Mayor Young’s plan, Phase 2 will include everything from reopening the Horseshoe Casino and the Maryland Zoo to malls, gyms, churches and swimming pools---all at 50 percent capacity.