Camden Yards will be allowed to open in time for opening day in March.

For the first time in close to a year, capacity restrictions will be lifted on select businesses in Maryland. Governor Larry Hogan made the bombshell announcement in a press conference at the statehouse in Annapolis. Beginning on Friday, March 12, at 5 p.m., capacity restrictions will be completely lifted on bars, restaurants, and retail stores, and moved to 50 percent for outdoor venues, including Camden Yards stadium.

The statewide mask mandate remains in place and restaurants and other businesses will still have to follow distancing and masking rules. Governor Hogan said the decision to lift restrictions was made following news of lower infection rates and increased vaccination numbers. The governor is also lifting restrictions and quarantine requirements for out-of-state travel.

Governor Hogan said improvements in case numbers, hospitalizations, and vaccine administration levels have given health officials the confidence to lift restrictions. The infection rate sits at 3.6 percent and more than 50 percent of phase one groups have been vaccinated. Hospitalizations are down 59 percent and zero deaths and cases were reported at nursing homes on Monday.

“The sun is shining, spring is coming and the weather is getting warmer. We want to stress that outside activity continues to be safer than indoor activity and I want to make it clear that the virus is still with us," said Governor Hogan. “It remains important to continue to take precautions to stay safe. The statewide masking order in Maryland remains in full force and effect.”

M&T Stadium Vaccine Site

M&T Stadium Vaccine Site, Courtesy Joe Andrucyk

The lifting of capacity limits impacts restaurants, bars, retail stores, gyms, casinos, personal services, indoor recreation centers, and religious institutions. All businesses will need to enforce masking and social distancing and restaurants must continue to space tables and require patrons to wear masks when not at their tables.

Outdoor and indoor establishments including theaters, concert halls, convention centers, wedding venues, and outdoor sport and entertainment venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity. The news comes right in time for the beginning of the Orioles baseball season next month. The order also allows the opening of adult daycare centers.

Will you be at opening day or at outside watching the game at your favorite patio bar? Share your plans in the comments.