By Associated Press - Wednesday, January 20, 2021

BALTIMORE (AP) - Restaurants in Baltimore can resume indoor and outdoor dining at limited capacities starting at the end of the week, the mayor announced Wednesday.

Mayor Brandon Scott’s announcement came six weeks after the city shut down on-site dining, The Baltimore Sun reported. However, the limited reopening, which starts at 6 a.m. Friday, will require customers to limit their stay to one hour, and they must sign their names upon entering and leaving.

In lifting the ban, Scott cited Baltimore’s declining coronavirus caseload and a decrease in hospitalizations for lifting the ban. He said Baltimore has the lowest seven-day average positivity rate in the state at 5.65%. The statewide average is 7.6%.

Under the new rules, bars and breweries that don’t serve food can also reopen for the first time since former Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young ordered them closed in November.

Restaurants and bars will be limited to 50% capacity outside and 25% capacity indoors. Some studies have indicated that risk for coronavirus transmission is far greater inside, as the disease is spread through the air and through respiratory droplets.

Some restaurant owners argued that the the one-hour time limit would be difficult to manage. Others said the capacity restrictions still make operating cost prohibitive.

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