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Baltimore mayor eases COVID-19 limits for most businesses

March 17, 2021 GMT

BALTIMORE (AP) — Restaurants, retail outlets and gyms in Baltimore are among the locations which will see a further loosening of COVID-19 restrictions just days after Mayor Brandon Scott pushed back against Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to reopen many businesses statewide.

Beginning Friday, March 26, Baltimore will allow indoor dining at 50% of capacity and outdoor dining at 75% capacity, news outlets reported Wednesday. Religious facilities, retail, indoor and outdoor recreation, gyms and casinos will also be allowed to operate at 50% of capacity.

Until now, indoor dining in Baltimore had been operating at 25% of capacity as well as gyms, retail, shopping malls and recreation. Outdoor dining was permitted at 50% of capacity.

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Scott’s order is still stricter than the reopening plan allowed under Hogan’s statewide order, announced last week, which allows for lifting capacity restrictions at restaurants and opening up large indoor and outdoor venues to 50% capacity.

Scott weighed the city’s legal options for several days ahead of Hogan’s order becoming effective Friday and eventually announced the city would stick to its existing restrictions despite ambiguity about his power to do so under Hogan’s order.

However, Scott, a Democrat, also pledged to revisit the restrictions as of March 22, four weeks after his last order on the topic was issued. The mayor said Wednesday that the city will now begin reevaluating COVID-19 restrictions on a two-week basis.