The two most populous counties in Maryland took steps toward closing indoor dining rooms to customers as COVID-19 cases spike nationwide.
On Wednesday, December 9, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced he had proposed an executive order that would also shut down indoor dining in his region. The county council has to consider Elrich’s proposal, which could pass Tuesday, December 15, and last as long as the county decides to amend its state emergency continues.
A day after Elrich announced his proposal, Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks mandated that, effective 5 p.m. Wednesday, December 16, restaurants under her jurisdiction would no longer be allowed to serve meals inside. Outdoor dining can continue at half capacity. That directive will be in place until at least January 16.
Over the past week, Maryland reported a 37 percent rise in its seven-day average of new cases, and an average of 35 deaths per day.
The counties, which account for nearly 2 million people, border Washington, D.C., and have consistently taken a more restrictive approach to reopening than the regulations Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has ordered. Less than a month ago, both counties enacted regulations that called for a 25 percent cap on indoor dining capacity.
The ramped-up measures from Alsobrooks and Elrich followed recently sworn-in Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott’s mandate to shut down all indoor and outdoor dining in the city until further notice, effective Friday, December 11. Anne Arundel County, home to capital city Annapolis, has also closed all on-site dining at restaurants through at least January 13.
In Virginia, which has seen a 70 percent spike in daily case figures, Governor Ralph Northam on Thursday announced a new curfew, from midnight to 5 a.m., but no new restrictions for bars restaurants.