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Hogan Eases Indoor Dining Restrictions, But Some Local Leaders Will Hold Back

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AP PHOTO/MARY ALTAFFER

  Gov. Larry Hogan will allow restaurants to expand indoor dining capacities to 75%  at 5:00 p.m. Monday. The Republican is encouraging residents to partake in Maryland’s first statewide Restaurant Week, despite concerns over COVID-19 spread throughout the state.

“To celebrate the first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week, I encourage Marylanders to support their favorite local businesses, whether you do so through delivery, curbside pickup, or by dining indoors or outside,” Hogan said Friday in a news release. 

Restaurant Week, a promotional dining event featuring special menus and discounts at participating restaurants began Friday and runs through Sept. 27.

In announcing the change, Hogan cited Maryland’s seven-day coronavirus positivity rate of 2.85 percent and a declining number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units. But data from Johns Hopkins University, which is calculated differently, says otherwise. The university’s most recent findings show a state positivity rate of 5.5%, which is above the World Health Organization’s suggested 5% ceiling for reopening measurements.

Individual Maryland counties have the power to determine their own restrictions as Maryland opens up, and several will not be implementing the new indoor dining capacity, including Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County. 

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said the city doesn’t have the numbers needed to responsibly ease restrictions on indoor dining, which were only moved to half capacity on Sept. 8.

“Baltimore City will continue to be guided by the data as we reopen in a responsible and cautious manner,” the Democrat said. “At this time, we simply do not have enough data to responsibly increase indoor dining capacity within the city. We will continue to monitor the data and will make adjustments when it is appropriate.”

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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