Capacity Limits Lifted On Restaurants, Retail; Baltimore City Restrictions Unchanged
DENISE KOCH: Coronavirus capacity limits can now be lifted on restaurants and businesses across the state, but not all cities and counties are on board with the governor's pace. Hello, everybody. I'm Denise Koch.
NICOLE BAKER: And I'm Nicole Baker. Today Maryland recorded nearly 1,000 new coronavirus cases, and our positivity rate moved up just slightly. But for the first time since mid-November, there are fewer than 200 people in the ICU.
DENISE KOCH: Baltimore's mayor, however, says that while the latest data is promising, it is too early to reopen in the city. WJZ investigator Mike Hellgren is live at City Hall. He has the mayor's decision and reaction to it. Mike?
MIKE HELLGREN: Denise, Nicole, even throughout Maryland the mask mandate remains in effect, and you cannot congregate around bars. You have to be seated for service. In Baltimore today, the mayor made clear that we are very much in the midst of the pandemic.
BRANDON SCOTT: Our approach will not change.
MIKE HELLGREN: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott says he's concerned about COVID-19 spreading with St. Patrick's Day celebrations, and he'll keep capacity limits the same for now in the city while much of the rest of the state reopens. Scott will revisit restrictions next week.
BRANDON SCOTT: It's not the time to go bar-hopping. It's not the time to be reckless with your personal activity just because the weather is better and it's St. Patrick's Day weekend. We know that can lead to lots of people dying.
MIKE HELLGREN: This means in Baltimore indoor dining and retail will stay at 25% capacity and outdoor dining at 50%. All of the surrounding counties have now removed those capacity limits at the urging of Governor Hogan.
Do you think it's the right thing to do?
DR. CHRIS BEYRER: It's probably early to do that. Remember, we've had now really three major spikes. At least two of those were very much associated with-- with early attempts to lift restrictions.
TOM LEONARD: You learn to live with it.
MIKE HELLGREN: The general manager of Pickles Pub says he's supportive of the mayor's decision.
TOM LEONARD: We also assume that there's nothing malicious, that everybody is trying to act in everybody's best interest. So we're just following the guidelines that the city is setting forth. We'd hope for more.
MIKE HELLGREN: Pickles sits across the street from Camden Yards, and the Orioles announced fans will soon be back in the seats starting opening day, at 25% capacity-- roughly 11,000 people.
TOM LEONARD: 10,000 more fans than was here last year for opening day, so there's brightness on the horizon.
MIKE HELLGREN: And the mayor says he fully supports the Orioles' decision to reopen at that limited capacity for opening day, and he says they have been working with the City Department of Health. Live in Baltimore City Hall, Mike Hellgren, WJZ.