Despite Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s Tuesday reopening order indicating that local restrictions are “null and void,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced today he will continue to limit the capacity of restaurants, bars, stores and other establishments.
“The numbers and public health indicators clearly do not warrant a reopening at the governor’s pace at this time,” Scott’s deputy director of communications, Stefanie Mavronis, said in a statement released this afternoon.
“The mayor remains confident in Baltimore’s authority to maintain the common sense, local public health mandates currently in place as we continue to navigate this pandemic,” the statement said.
Hogan’s order keeps the state’s mask mandate but ends capacity limits at restaurants, and opens up large indoor and outdoor venues to 50% capacity. The new rules go into effect tomorrow (Friday) at 5 p.m.
Baltimore currently limits indoor dining to 25% of capacity and outdoor dining to 50% of capacity.
Retail, indoor recreation and gyms and religious institutions are also restricted to 25% of capacity.
Invoking Emergency Powers
Hogan’s executive order, which caught local leaders by surprise, prompted confusion due to language indicating that it supersedes any jurisdiction’s conflicting rules.
At a news conference, Hogan said jurisdictions had the power to make stricter rules, but pointedly added “my advice is that they should follow the state guidance and get in line.”
Scott said on Tuesday he would consult with the city’s lawyers and health department.
Today Mavronis told The Brew that in order to maintain Baltimore’s stricter mandates, “the city will be invoking its local emergency powers.” She said the administration plans to provide more details tomorrow afternoon.
Meanwhile neighboring jurisdictions are responding more favorably to Hogan’s edict.
Baltimore County, for example, will be lifting capacity limits on indoor and outdoor dining, retail, etc., but will continue to enforce requirements for face covering and social distancing, County Executive Johnny Olszewski said.
“If our data in the coming weeks shows that Governor Hogan’s order creates a detrimental impact to the health, safety and welfare of residents,” Olszewski added, “Baltimore County is prepared to take steps to limit the spread of Covid-19 and protect public health.”