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What’s Still Open, What’s Closed? Baltimore’s Latest Pandemic Restrictions

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Baltimore will re-enter Phase 1 level restrictions at 5 p.m. Thursday, as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths and positivity rates continue to climb throughout the city and state.

Mayor Jack Young’s executive order reduces capacity to 25% at religious facilities, retail establishments, gyms, theaters and other businesses, and also caps indoor and outdoor private gatherings at 10 people.   

“These restrictions are not being put into place lightly – our business owners are hurting, employees and their families are hurting,” Young said in a statement earlier this week. “But after consulting with Dr. Dzirasa and our public health experts and reviewing the data, it became clear additional restrictions were needed in order to save lives.”

City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa pointed to several troubling trends: the 7-day average rate for new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people increased by 125% in the last half of October, while the positivity rate increased by 124%.  From Oct. 2 to Nov. 7, the city’s number of COVID-19 patients in acute care beds increased by 123%. 

“I cannot stress enough the impacts of the choices we will make in the coming days and weeks on the world around us,” Dzirasa said. “Our collective commitment to COVID-19 best practices – wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, avoiding gatherings – will dictate the number of lives we are able to save.” 

Young’s tightening of restrictions comes days after Gov. Hogan reinstated statewide limits on restaurants; the Republican similarly cited alarming statewide trends. 

Throughout the pandemic, Hogan has allowed local leaders to impose more stringent limits if they wish. Young has consistently kept the city’s restrictions at stricter levels than Hogan’s statewide limits. 

Last week, Young also issued an order requiring those in Baltimore two years or older to wear face coverings in public spaces indoors or outdoors. Though the health order does not carry legal force, violating the statewide restaurant and bar capacity limit carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine, up to a year in jail, or both. 

The complete list of restrictions is below.



  • Gatherings: gatherings at both indoor and outdoor locations, public or private, will be limited to 10 or fewer people, unless the location has a fire marshal-rated maximum occupancy. If so, the gathering is limited to 25% of that occupancy. 

    • Youth sports gatherings are allowed with no spectators, except for parents or legal guardians. Social distancing and face coverings will be required for those in attendance not participating in the sporting activity.


  • Occupancy limits: Religious facilities, retail establishments and malls, indoor recreational establishments, casinos, fitness centers, personal services, theaters, indoor dining at food service establishments, outdoor entertainment venues, other recreational establishments, and other businesses are capped at up to 25% of maximum occupancy.


  • Restaurants and bars:

    • Indoor dining rooms may remain open at 25% capacity and must close by 11 p.m. Young's executive order did not mention outdoor dining areas, which may continue to operate at 50% capacity.

    • Restaurants and bars may not serve customers who are not seated and eating.

    • Restaurants and bars may not serve customers beverages in indoor seating areas if they are not also eating.

    • Businesses with BD7 or D tavern licenses that allow them to serve separate packaged goods sections, like a bar that sells bottles of wine, may continue to operate those areas.


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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