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Wrap-up of news stories taken from the day's local headlines.

Baltimore makes moves to reopen, stay-at-home order remains in place

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(right) Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young

Mayor Jack Young says Baltimore restaurants can resume serving customers outdoors starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. Young Thursday said the city's stay-at-home order remains in place, but residents can choose whether to follow Governor Larry Hogan's new executive order allowing outdoor dining in Maryland. 

Restaurants that do not have outdoor seating permits can begin applying for a permit on Monday. Baltimore's health commissioner says people eating outdoors should follow social distancing guidelines and wear face coverings, except when eating.

 

“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 Young said. “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.”

 

Restaurants that are already permitted for outdoor dining can begin serving meals outside on Friday, May 29 at 5 p.m. Restaurants that do not currently have outdoor seating permits can begin applying for a permit at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 1. Applicants for a temporary outdoor dining permit can apply online by visiting the City's electronic permitting site. On Monday, applicants can visit the City's e-permits site and select the category for "Outdoor Seating - Temporary" to apply. 

 

Governor Larry Hogan Wednesday announced saying Maryland is moving toward completing Stage One of its reopening plan. The governor announced said the state is meeting certain metrics, including increased coronavirus testing and contact tracing. The state is also seeing reduced positivity, hospitalization, and death rates from the virus. Hogan says starting at 5 p.m. Friday, restaurants, and social organizations such as American Legion, VFW, and Elks lodges can begin serving customers outdoors if they follow social distancing guidelines. Also on Friday, youth sports, day camps, outdoor pools, and drive-in movie theaters can open with limits.

 

"Based on the increase [Baltimore has]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," Dr. 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 keeping with the Governor’s order on outdoor dining, Restaurants must:

 

  • Ensure patrons are appropriately distanced with no more than six people seated at a table, except for members of the same household.
  • Ensure patrons are seated at least six feet away from each other, except for households seated together.
  • Use single-use disposable paper menus or sanitize reusable menus between each seating.
  • Sanitize outdoor tables and chairs between each customer seating.
  • Train staff in current COVID-19 health and workplace guidelines.
  • Begin screening procedures including daily temperature checks of all staff.
  • Ensure staff wear masks or face coverings when interacting with other employees or patrons.

 
Mayor Young also said that the City will review its policy regarding size limits on religious gatherings within a week. Policies involving the operation of private outdoor swimming pools will be reassessed within two weeks. Currently, all City-operated pools remain closed.