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Baltimore County issues advance guidance for restaurant outdoor seating, not yet allowed by state

TOWSON, MD—In anticipation of future steps by the state of Maryland to further reopen, Baltimore County on Tuesday issued proactive guidance to help restaurants and bars prepare to provide expanded outdoor dining options.  The full guidelines can be viewed at the end of this story.

Under Governor Larry Hogan’s statewide executive order, restaurants and bars are currently only permitted to provide carryout and delivery service. While county governments may not override state mandates, this effort from Baltimore County will help ensure establishments in the jurisdiction are ready to reopen more quickly.

“We are here to work in partnership to support Baltimore County’s restaurants and bars, which add to the vibrancy of our communities and are vital to our local economy,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “We don’t know exactly when the state will allow outdoor seating, but we’re taking action now to help ensure these small businesses can reopen as fast and as safely as possible.”

Public health experts, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have identified outdoor restaurant and bar seating—combined with social distancing and sanitary practices—as a lower risk option compared to indoor seating. This service, once permitted by the state of Maryland, would complement existing drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curbside pickup options.

In a letter to restaurateurs, officials provided proactive updates outlining necessary steps to incorporate these public health practices into their business. Baltimore County is in the process of creating a streamlined application for establishments to request expansions in order to allow outdoor dining in areas not previously authorized, including both the use of private and public property.

County officials are also in conversations with Chambers of Commerce about possible street closures in an effort to identify expanded outdoor dining options.

By helping establishments expand outdoor dining options, restaurants and bars will be able to reopen more quickly.

The full guidelines from Baltimore County are embedded below.

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[Photo by Pixabay from Pexels]

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