Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced on June 19 that Baltimore will enter stage two of reopening following shutdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
This measure follows the state-wide safer-at-home advisory and city-wide decision to allow outdoor dining and limited reopening of non-essential retail stores. Under phase two, non-essential businesses, public spaces and faith-based entities will be allowed to reopen with precautionary measures in place.
Restaurants will be able to offer indoor seating at up to 50 percent of maximum capacity. Indoor and outdoor pools, libraries, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, the National Aquarium and museums will be allowed to open with the same limited capacity requirements.
Following decreased hospitalization rates and other key indices, Maryland entered into stage two of the “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery” plan on June 5, per Governor Larry Hogan’s orders.
Local jurisdictions were allowed to tailor the reopening timeline. At that time, Young noted that Baltimore was not ready to enter the next stage of reopening.
“I, more than almost anyone, would love to say Baltimore City is open and safe, but that simply is not what the data is telling us at this time,” Young said at a press conference.
Rising junior Orlando Espinoza, who currently lives in Baltimore, explained that he was not surprised by Young’s decision in an email to The News-Letter.
“It was an expected move, as most other places in Maryland have opened up,” he wrote. “I just hope everyone here still remains careful.”
In an email to The News-Letter, Carma Halterman, the owner of Carma’s Cafe, said that she would not be opening the restaurant for indoor dining given its small size.
“I won't be reopening our dining room until social distancing is no longer necessary,“ Halterman wrote. “I appreciate the Mayor being conservative (in relation to state reopening) and hope businesses that are able to institute policies to protect their customers do so.”
Carma’s Cafe will continue to offer take out options and outdoor dining.
Baltimore resident and rising senior Sonomi Oyagi said she will continue to be cautious when going outdoors despite the relaxed measures.
“[My housemates and I] agreed that we’re still going to generally avoid spending prolonged periods of time in indoor public facilities like libraries or eating inside restaurants,” she said. “We’re going to try to do outside seating if we do go out to eat.”
Oyagi added that she supports Young’s decision to delay the reopening measures.
“I’ve appreciated that he’s been more hesitant and has waited longer. It definitely felt like [Baltimore City] was a bit more cautious than other parts of Maryland,” she said. “This move feels a little bit quick, but that may be because of increased pressure to follow what the rest of Maryland is doing.”