BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore city officials reissued information Tuesday about updated coronavirus policies announced Friday during a press conference.
The main points: masks are now required in all outdoor spaces, regardless of social distancing, and inside any business or establishment; and Baltimore is moving back to Phase 1, which means 25% capacity inside businesses and restaurants.
Two new items: Indoor dining will close at 11 p.m. rather than the previously stated 10 p.m. and taverns, that normally operate on more alcohol than food sales, can sell prepackaged goods to go.
The executive order will be official on Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. The mask mandate went into effect on Friday, Nov. 6.
READ: Baltimore Mayor Issues New COVID-19 ORDER
This comes as the state of Maryland has been reporting more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases daily for one week.
As of Tuesday, 19,549 coronavirus cases have been reported in Baltimore city with 499 confirmed deaths.
“I want to take this opportunity to remind all of our residents – the pandemic is still here, and is rapidly escalating in our communities,” Mayor Young said. “These restrictions are not being put into place lightly – our business owners are hurting, employees and their families are hurting. But after consulting with Dr. Dzirasa and our public health experts and reviewing the data, it became clear additional restrictions were needed in order to save lives.”
According to the city, the 7-day average rate for new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents increased by 125% between Oct. 12-31. The percent positivity increased by 124%.
From October 2 to November 7, 2020, the number of COVID-19 patients in acute care beds increased by 123% and the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds increased by 113%.
From September 30 to November 5, 2020, the daily number 7-day average of COVID-19 admissions to city hospitals increased by 100%.
“Unfortunately, over the last month, we have seen our COVID-19 metrics aggressively move in the wrong direction,” Dr. Dzirasa said. “I cannot stress enough the impacts of the choices we will make in the coming days and weeks on the world around us. Our collective commitment to COVID-19 best practices – wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, avoiding gatherings – will dictate the number of lives we are able to save.”
Under the executive order, the following restrictions will be put in place beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12:
Gatherings – gatherings at both indoor and outdoor locations, public or private, will be limited to 10 or fewer people unless the location has a fire marshal-rated maximum occupancy. If the location has a fire-marshal rated maximum occupancy, then the gathering is limited to 25% of that occupancy.
Youth sports gatherings are allowed with no spectators, except for parents or legal guardians. Social distancing and face coverings will be required for those in attendance not participating in the sporting activity.
Occupancy limits – Religious facilities, retail establishments and malls, indoor recreational establishments, casinos, fitness centers, personal services, theaters, indoor dining at food service establishments, outdoor entertainment venues, other recreational establishments, and other businesses are capped at up to 25% of maximum occupancy.
Indoor dining rooms may remain open at 25% capacity and must close by 11 p.m.
Foodservice establishments may not serve customers who are not seated and eating.
Foodservice establishments may not serve customers beverages in indoor seating areas if they are not also eating.
Businesses with BD7 or D tavern licenses and with a separate packaged goods section that was in operation prior to March 5, 2020, may operate those areas under Section IV of the Executive Order.
As for the new health order, Baltimore city residents are required to wear face coverings not only inside restaurants and businesses, but when they are in any public space outdoors. An individual’s nose and mouth need to be covered by the face covering.
“We know that face-coverings are critically important in stopping the transmission of COVID-19, and yet we continue to hear and see people avoiding wearing them in public,” Dr. Dzirasa said. “If you’re outside of your home, plan to wear a face-covering – it’s that simple. While there are certain exceptions, by and large, we should all be looking for ways to wear face coverings – ones that cover your nose and mouth – every single time we leave our homes.”
The only way you won’t be required to wear a mask is if you have one of the listed reasons below:
if, due to a bona fide disability or medical condition, it would be unsafe
for the person to do so;
to the extent wearing a Face Covering would impede communication by or
with persons who have a hearing impairment or other disability, where the
ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
if wearing a Face Covering would subject the person to an unsafe working
condition, as determined by federal, state, or local occupational safety
regulators or workplace safety guidelines;
to the extent wearing a Face Covering would make it impossible to receive
services requiring access to the face, mouth, or head, including without
limitation, dental care, shaving, and facial treatments;
while consuming food or beverages;
while swimming or engaging in other physical activities where the use of a
Face Covering is likely to pose a bona fide safety risk; or
while operating any Public Transportation conveyance, provided that the
person is (i) the sole operator of the conveyance, and (ii) located in a
separate compartment that is off-limits to riders.
non-public schools, child care facilities, and youth camps should continue to follow guidance
concerning face coverings issued by the Maryland State Department of Education and the
Maryland Department of Health.
“I am once again imploring our residents – listen to our public health experts, wear your face coverings, and practice social distancing,” Young said. “We are now more than 8 months into this pandemic. There is simply no excuse for ignoring the guidance when we know it will save lives. And I want to thank our governor for continuing to remind residents that our local governments are leading the COVID-19 response in Maryland.”
For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.