Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced a new executive order in a Tuesday press conference that will relax Covid restrictions for businesses and religious institutions across the state. Effective Friday, March 12 at 5 PM, capacity limits will be lifted at bars and restaurants for indoor and outdoor dining, as well for retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, salons, and indoor recreational establishments like bowling alleys, casinos, and theaters. Masking and distancing measures will remain in place, as well as no-standing rules at restaurants and bars.
Governor Hogan also mandated that attendance at large outdoor venues will increase to 50 percent capacity, including Camden Yards and Pimlico race track. Adult day care centers will reopen. Maryland will also lift its quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers.
The loosened restrictions come in response to declining Covid cases across the state. Hogan also emphasized that Maryland is leading the country in the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
“I want to be clear the virus is still with us and it remains important to take precautions to stay safe,” said Hogan in the press conference.
Montgomery County, which has enforced some of the strictest Covid regulations in Maryland—including a recent lengthy ban on indoor dining—may not follow suit. The Washington Post reports that Montgomery County representatives are not ready to make “significant changes” to their pandemic restrictions, but are considering modifications to limits on gatherings (currently set at 10 persons indoors, and 25 outside) as well as childcare operations.
“State law does grant local jurisdictions some power to take actions that are more restrictive than the state, but my advice is they should follow the state guidance and get in line,” said Hogan at the press conference. “Its been confusing with a patchwork of changing rules and not getting in alignment with one another.”
Both Montgomery County and Prince George’s County recently lifted indoor dining bans, though capacity is currently set to 25 percent, and there’s a controversial 90 minute time limit for customers to dine in Montgomery County. Hospitality venues in the District also remain capped at 25 percent, while the limit is 50 percent in Virginia.