Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on Wednesday announced the loosening of a number of COVID-19 restrictions in the city effective later this month.
VIC CARTER: Major news out of Baltimore city tonight as Mayor Brandon Scott announces some restrictions will be relaxed next Friday. This comes as the coronavirus numbers across the state remain steady.
WJZ investigator Mike Hellgren is live at Baltimore City Community College where Mayor Scott made the announcement. Mike.
MIKE HELLGREN: Vic, the mayor has taken a more cautious approach than the rest of the state during this pandemic. Now in about a week and a half, capacity limits on most businesses will essentially double. The mask mandate remains in effect, just as it is in the rest of the state.
BRANDON SCOTT: We will continue to do what's in the best interest of residents of Baltimore.
MIKE HELLGREN: Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott is relaxing restrictions starting Friday, March 26, allowing greater capacity at most businesses but still not fully aligning with the state, which has removed all capacity limits on restaurants and retail. And he had this warning about St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
BRANDON SCOTT: Do not act a fool today because you might kill somebody.
MIKE HELLGREN: Capacity for restaurants and retail will rise in the city from 25% to 50%. 75% capacity will be allowed for outdoor dining with tents required to be open on all sides. Churches and fitness centers will be allowed 50% capacity. The mayor says he feels it's the right decision, even though all neighboring counties are allowing full capacity.
BRANDON SCOTT: When people get sick across this region and the state, they end up in our hospitals, meaning that they are putting our residents who work in those hospitals at risk to COVID.
MIKE HELLGREN: The city's number of cases, positivity rate, and deaths have all declined in the past four weeks. City officials say they'll be more frequently evaluating restrictions in the future.
BRANDON SCOTT: And we'll just fight for what we know is right and saving lives over everything else.
MIKE HELLGREN: When the rest of the state opened last week, some businesses told us they just want to be safe.
- There's nothing malicious. Everybody's trying to act in everybody's best interest.
MIKE HELLGREN: The mayor also received his vaccination, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson, administered by the city health commissioner. He said it was important to do it publicly.
A line of other eligible city employees waited to get the vaccine here today. They are all eligible because they're involved in the continuity of government.
And after he got his vaccine, Mayor Scott said he was feeling good. He encouraged everyone to get whatever shot is available to them. Right now, 22.6% of people in the state of Maryland have gotten at least one dose of vaccine. Reporting live in northwest Baltimore, Mike Hellgren, WJZ.