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

Baltimore to ease COVID-19 limits for most businesses beginning March 26

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BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore City will ease several COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday, March 26.

Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa made the announcment Thursday afternoon. 

Beginning at 6 a.m., on March 26, the capacity limit for indoor dining will increase to 50% and outdoor dining will increase to 75%.

Baltimore will also increase capacity limits on religious facilities, retail, indoor and outdoor recreation, gyms and casinos. 

 "As the continued ease of restrictions is justified by our public health indicators, my administration remains unwavered in doing the right thing over the popular. I encourage Baltimoreans to remain serious about this pandemic and continue to wear their masks and adhere to our public health guidelines so that we can continue to see positive outcomes within our communities", says Mayor Scott. 

“Our metrics have dropped dramatically since the peak of the holiday surge, and we are starting to see larger and larger numbers of City residents obtain their vaccinations,"says Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. "We need residents to continue doing their part as we reopen businesses - wear your masks, practice social distancing, and get your vaccine when you're eligible to do so."

The following changes will take effect at 6:00 a.m. on March 26: 

  • Gatherings: Gatherings will need to comply with any relevant capacity based upon the space in which they are located.
  • Religious Facilities: Increased to 50% of maximum occupancy.
  • Retail Establishments and Malls: Increased to 50% of maximum occupancy.
  • Indoor Recreational Establishments: All indoor recreation sites, except hookah/cigar lounges, will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Hookah and cigar lounges are allowed to operate their retail spaces at 50% capacity, but no smoking is allowed on site.
  • Outdoor Recreational Establishments: Limited to 50% of maximum occupancy.
  • Organized Amateur Sports: Allowed with certain guidelines in place.
  • Fitness Centers: Increased to 50% of maximum occupancy. Fitness classes are allowed — 10 person limit or 25% capacity, whichever is greater. Social distancing and masks required.
  • Casinos: Increased to 50% of maximum occupancy. Dining areas allowed to remain open, following the requirements of food service establishments.
  • Libraries: Increased to 50% maximum occupancy.
  • Museums, Zoos, Aquariums: Increased to 50% of maximum occupancy
  • Foodservice Establishments: Outdoor dining can resume at 75% capacity. If space is tented, the tent needs to be open on all sides. Indoor dining can resume at 50% capacity. Bars without food licenses are also allowed to operate — 75% outdoors, 50% indoors.  
    • All food service establishments must continue to keep a log of contact information for patrons and staff for contact tracing purposes.
  • Personal Services: Increased to 50% 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 shop.
  • Theaters and Outdoor Entertainment Venues: Live streaming of performances is allowed. Exemption for mask order on performers for live and live-streamed performances with appropriate mitigation barriers in place.
    • Indoor theaters are limited to the lesser of 50% occupancy or 100 persons.
    • Outdoor entertainment venues are limited to the lesser of 75% occupancy or 250 persons.

Baltimore's decision to loosen COVID-19 restrictions comes just days after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced many businesses could reopen statewide .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJhJ7_90RBA

Baltimore native, Micarie Kemp has always been passionate about working in the media.