ANNAPOLIS — Following several weeks of improving COVID-19 metrics, as of Monday, February 1, restaurants may resume service after 10 PM.
Governor Larry Hogan issued an emergency order stating that bars and restaurants will no longer be required to close at 10 p.m.
In recent weeks, the state has distributed an additional $80 million in economic assistance to Maryland hotels and hospitality businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
Thursday’s actions follow several weeks of improving COVID-19 metrics:
- The statewide positivity rate has dropped by 34.7%, and is now the lowest reported since November 13.
- The statewide case rate has dropped by 37.1%.
- Hospitalizations have dropped by 16.2%, including a decrease of 11% in the past 14 days.
- Today’s report of 2,190 new cases is 42.2% lower than the new case high reported on December 4. The average number of new daily cases declined by 35% over the past 14 days.
- The state’s estimated transmission rate has remained below 1.0 since December 27.
The statewide order for 50% indoor capacity at restaurants will remain in place.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman stated the county will follow Hogan's order, saying:
“As has been our policy Harford County will continue to safely reopen to the fullest extent permitted by Gov. Hogan, and we will follow today’s announcement allowing restaurants and bars to resume service after 10 p.m. starting Monday. This week also happens to be Harford County Restaurant Week, and I encourage Marylanders to support our great local restaurants this week and beyond.”
Mayor Brandon Scott said despite Hogan's new order, Baltimore's restaurant restrictions will still be in effect:
“Decisions in Baltimore will continue to be guided by the data and conversations with our hospital partners. As we just eased restrictions last week, we will continue to examine the data closely over a four week period before making any decisions to modify restrictions.”
On Friday morning, Scott's office updated WMAR-2 News saying:
"The City will continue to follow the State’s curfew mandate and LIFT the 10p curfew on Monday. (as our executive order does not include one)"
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced that Baltimore County will remain in alignment with the state:
“Baltimore County has taken significant steps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while gradually and safely reopening our economy. Thanks to our efforts, and the dedication of County residents to protect themselves and their loved ones, we’re seeing progress in our shared fight.
I’ve consistently said that a patchwork approach to reopening only confuses residents, puts businesses who are just miles apart on unequal playing fields, and limits the public health impact of any individual jurisdiction’s decisions. By continuing to align with the state, Baltimore County is providing clarity for our residents—though these steps do not mean we can let our guard down.
It’s critical that we all continue to do everything we can to slow the spread of this virus. That means continuing to wear face coverings and socially distancing wherever possible.
This dangerous disease is still with us and I urge all our residents and businesses to continue to follow the best public health guidance.
As with every step we have taken, we will continue to monitor this situation and will not hesitate to do whatever is necessary to protect the public’s health. "
And Marshall Weston, President & CEO of the Restaurant Association of Maryland said:
“Lifting the statewide dining curfew will allow restaurants to accommodate customers later into the dinner hour and provide an opportunity to generate much needed revenue to keep their businesses afloat. Employees will also benefit from the increased work hours and the likelihood that more in person dining will result. We appreciate that Governor Hogan is actively managing this crisis and recognizing that after several weeks of improving COVID metrics that it made sense to lift this restriction.”
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball also announced Howard County would follow Hogan’s directive:
“Howard County restaurants have been working incredibly hard during this pandemic to keep their employees and customers safe,” said Ball. “With encouraging data and continued vigilance from our residents, businesses, and region, we can provide this small relief. We must not grow weary though – if we want to keep our data trending in the right direction, we have to continue to be cautious and safe.”
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Benjamin Lind, who is the general manager at Barley’s Backyard in Towson, said he’s “excited” about the new order after the bar and restaurant had to cut employee hours due to the curfew.
He said the timing of the governor’s order is perfect now that Towson University students are back.
“A lot more tables. A lot more drinks. It’s really going to help business,” Lind said.