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What's Open, What's Closed: Mayor Scott's Latest Baltimore Restrictions

Screenshot via CharmTV

A series of new pandemic restrictions ordered by Mayor Brandon Scott in Baltimore, including the shuttering of indoor and outdoor dining, will go into effect at 5:00 p.m. Friday, as local hospitals approach capacity.

“Governor Hogan said yesterday that the state of Maryland is in red. No, we're on fire,” Scott said in a Friday morning news conference. “We have to understand the dire situation that we are in.”

Scott said that while his decision to close dine-in operations was difficult, the city is 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,” the Democrat said. “That's what this is about, keeping people alive. This was not a popular decision, but it's the right one.

Local hospitals are at 88% capacity, Scott said. City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said the city’s new restrictions are proven to reduce the strain on health care systems.

“Decisive action has previously been shown to dramatically decrease COVID-19 cases here locally and in other countries across the world,” she said. “At this point, it is action, not words, that will get us through this pandemic. Eating and drinking with others outside of your household could be life threatening right now.”

Dzirasa pointed to recent advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: ordering takeout should be considered a neighborly obligation. “I hope Baltimore residents who can will join me in supporting the restaurant industry,” she said.

Scott assembled three restaurant owners to underscore the message.

Samantha Classen, the owner of the Golden West Cafe in Hampden, thanked Scott for his action. “It seems like after nearly 10 months into this, we only have tough decisions left to make,” she said.

She  encouraged residents to support restaurants by buying gift cards for later use, if possible, and shout out their favorite restaurants online through social media or reviews.

“We are giving it all we've got and generally hanging by a thread,” she said.

Gregory Brown, owner of the Mt. Vernon vegan eatery Land of Kush, said residents can best support their favorite restaurants by ordering directly from them, rather than third party vendors like DoorDash. Doing so helps a restaurant avoid the services’ high fees, he said, which allows them to keep more residents on staff.

It's not just about businesses itself, but employees, Brown said, noting that steady jobs keep people away from violence.

“Support businesses that are supporting the community and supporting the people in the community,” Brown said.

Terrence Dixon, owner of Old Goucher’s Terra Cafe, said his restaurant helps his 20 employees pay their bills. When people support restaurants, they are stabilizing communities and building a safer city, he said.

He said he supports Scott’s actions, noting that safety is his top priority.

“At the beginning of this, I think that a lot of people chose profit over people, and look where that got us,” Dixon said. “But we’re going to keep our business going. The loaf has gotten smaller, but everybody will still get a slice.”

Many Baltimore restaurants are minority-owned. While closing them was not an easy decision to make, Scott said, it’s in line with his campaign promise to govern with equity.

“Keeping these people alive is equity,” he said.

A list of the complete restrictions is below.

  • Gatherings: Indoor gatherings at public and private facilities will be limited to 10 persons. Outdoor gatherings at public and private facilities will be limited to 25 persons. Sports gatherings at facilities controlled by Rec & Parks are prohibited.
  • Religious facilities: Limited to 25% of a building’s maximum occupancy.
  • Retail establishments and malls: Limited to 25% of maximum occupancy.
  • Indoor recreational establishments, including cigar & hookah establishments and adult entertainment venues: closed.
  • Outdoor recreational establishments: Limited to 25% of maximum occupancy.
  • Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, breweries, tour boat dining: Closed to indoor and outdoor dining. Carry-out, delivery and drive-through service may continue.
  • Fitness centers: Limited to 25% of maximum occupancy, no group fitness activities, such as classes, are permitted.
  • Casinos: Limited to 25% of maximum occupancy. Food and beverage services are prohibited.
  • Personal services, such as salons: Limited to 25% of maximum occupancy. Staff must wear face coverings at all times while indoors. Services must be provided on an appointment-only basis, and a log must be kept of names of customers, staff providing services and other residents who enter the business.
  • Libraries: May continue to operate with curbside pickup service.
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums: Limited to 25% of maximum occupancy.
  • Theaters and outdoor entertainment venues: closed.
  • Live performances: prohibited.
Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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