Mayor Brandon Scott is lifting the ban on both dining methods this Friday.
Starting this week, Baltimore City restaurants will be able to resume indoor and outdoor dining at a limited capacity.
In a press conference on Wednesday morning, Mayor Brandon Scott outlined new rules for local eateries that will begin on Friday at 6 a.m. Under the new order, restaurants can operate at 25 percent capacity for indoor dining and 50 percent for outdoor dining. This includes bars operating without a food license, which can resume business at quarter-capacity. Both dining methods have been effectively banned since early December, with the exception of carryout and delivery.
In addition, the city is also requiring restaurants to assist in prevention efforts curtailing the virus' spread, including contact tracing and providing signage inside dining spaces. Patrons' time spent eating indoors will be limited to one hour, and there will be sign-in/sign-out sheets available for customers to use.
The mayor previously barred all in-person dining back in December as a response to the surge in cases following the holiday season. The decision prompted ire from restaurant workers and even a lawsuit from The Restaurant Association of Maryland, citing struggles to stay afloat exclusively via takeout.
According to the data, Baltimore appears to be past the NYE peak. We are seeing slight reductions in new cases and hospital utilization. In consultation with our public health experts, I have made the decision to adjust Baltimore's #COVID19 mandates effective Friday 6AM: pic.twitter.com/lxie39ekKC— Brandon M. Scott (@MayorBMScott) January 20, 2021
Restaurants have suffered unprecedented hardships during the pandemic, and with many establishments reliant on indoor service, some have chosen to shut their doors temporarily instead of adhering to the limitations. Despite these tensions, the city has remained stable in its handling of the virus, currently possessing the lowest infection rates statewide. But Scott urges caution.
"The steps we've taken since December have worked. Baltimore has the lowest positivity rate in the state. But I need everyone to stay vigilant: continue to wear masks, practice physical distancing, and avoid large gatherings to build on these gains and keep our community safe," he said on social media.
Officials say the new rules will be in effect for four weeks. You can find out more on Baltimore City's website.
What do you think of Baltimore resuming indoor and outdoor dining? Will this change how you dine during the pandemic? Sound off in the comments.