Baltimore City will allow outdoor dining when Gov. Larry Hogan’s latest executive order takes effect Friday.
“After consulting with our Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, and reviewing Baltimore City’s health data on COVID-19, we will move forward with allowing outdoor dining,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said in a statement. “I want to thank all of our business owners and restaurant employees for their patience and continued adherence to the use of social distancing and face coverings as we allow for this next step in our reopening.”
Technically, Baltimore City remains under a stay-at-home order.
“This means that any resident in Baltimore that chooses to follow the governor’s orders… it’s going to be a personal and private decision based on them,” Young said at a later media availability.
Restaurants that already have permits for outdoor dining will be able to serve patrons at 5 p.m. Friday, when Hogan’s order takes effect. Restaurants that don’t currently have permits for outdoor seating can apply for one at 9 a.m. Monday.
“Based on the increase we have seen in testing capacity recently, coupled with the decrease we have seen in the overall positivity rate of tests, opening outdoor dining facilities can be done safely, provided appropriate guidance is followed,” Dzirasa said.
“We are continuing to examine the data daily to ensure it is trending in the right direction. Residents dining outdoors should still practice social distancing, and should wear face coverings, except when eating.”
In announcing his relaxing of restrictions, Hogan lauded proposals in Baltimore, Towson and Annapolis to close streets to allow for expanded outdoor dining. In Baltimore, street closures will be limited to non-arterial roads that don’t have bus service.
As stipulated in Hogan’s order, restaurants must ensure diners are appropriately distanced with no more than six to a table and at least 6 feet away from each other, except for members of the same household. Eateries must use single-use paper menus or sanitize menus between seatings. Tables and chairs must be sanitized between seatings.
Restaurant staff must be trained in health guidelines related to the coronavirus and all staff will be subject to daily health checks. Staff members will be required to wear masks or face coverings when interacting with co-workers or patrons.
Young said the city is reviewing its policy on religious gatherings and private outdoor swimming pools. City-run pools remain closed.