Indoor Dining Capacity Increased from 50% to 75%
Governor Visits Downtown Annapolis, Encourages Marylanders to Support Local Eateries September 18-27

Governor Larry Hogan today marked the beginning of the state’s first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week by announcing expanded capacity for indoor dining.

Effective Monday, September 21 at 5:00 p.m., capacity for indoor operations at restaurants may increase from 50 to 75 percent, with appropriate distancing, and following strict public health requirements consistent with the CDC, FDA, and the National Restaurant Association. Read the governor’s order.

Earlier in the day, the governor visited McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar in Annapolis to present a proclamation recognizing Friday, September 18 through Sunday, September 27 as Maryland Restaurant Week. The governor spent time in several Annapolis Recovery Zones, where restaurants, bars, and shops have adopted creative solutions to get safely back to business.

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“As we continue with the third and final stage of our recovery, I want to commend our state’s restaurant industry for their incredible resilience this year and for their continued commitment to the health and safety of Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “To celebrate the first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week, I encourage Marylanders to support their favorite local businesses, whether you do so through delivery, curbside pickup, or by dining indoors or outside.”

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Governor Hogan presents a proclamation celebrating Maryland Restaurant Week to McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar. 

While local jurisdictions have observed individual restaurant weeks over the past decade, this is the very first statewide observance. There are no entry fees or course requirements, and restaurants may offer special menus, discounts, or other promotions. The Maryland Office of Tourism has contributed $50,000 in sponsorship to support the marketing efforts of the Restaurant Association of Maryland.

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Governor Hogan greets employees of Bitty and Beau’s Coffee, which opened its Annapolis location in February.

According to statistics announced today by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state’s Leisure and Hospitality sector experienced the most job growth in August with an increase of 5,800 jobs—4,000 of which belong to Accommodation and Food Services. Starting in May, when Governor Hogan announced Phase One of recovery and the safe resumption of outdoor dining, Leisure and Hospitality has added 65,900 jobs, 53,400 of which belong to Accommodation and Food Services. Overall, the state has gained 183,200 jobs during the recovery.

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Governor Hogan meets restaurant patrons at Market Space near City Dock, where tents have been set up to facilitate outdoor dining.

As with Stages One and Two, Stage Three continues to be implemented in multiple phases with a flexible, community-based approach where individual jurisdictions make decisions regarding the timing of reopenings.

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From the executive order:

f. Foodservice Establishments.

i. Subject to applicable Local Orders, applicable Secretary’s Directives, and paragraph III.f.ii below, (a) restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other similar establishments that sell food or beverages for consumption on-premises in Maryland, and (b) Social Clubs with dining facilities (collectively, “Foodservice Establishments”) may, to the extent permitted by applicable law:

1. serve food and beverages to customers for consumption in outdoor seating areas;

2. sell food and beverages that are promptly taken from the premises, i.e., on a carry-out or drive-through basis;

3. deliver food and beverages to customers off the premises; and

4. serve food and beverages to customers for consumption in indoor seating areas.

ii. Foodservice Establishments shall:

1. not allow the number of persons in the Foodservice Establishment to exceed 75% of the Foodservice Establishment’s Maximum Occupancy (defined below);

2. not serve food in a buffet format;

3. not serve customers who are not seated; and

4. clean and disinfect each table between each seating in accordance with CDC and MDH guidelines, using cleaning products that meet the criteria of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against COVID-19.

iii. As used in this paragraph III.f:

1. the term “indoor seating area” means a portion of a Foodservice Establishment that is an indoor area, as defined in COMAR 10.19.04.02.B(9); and

2. the term “outdoor seating area” means a portion of a Foodservice Establishment that is not an indoor seating area.

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Article update: A new directive was released today from the Maryland Health Department: https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/Documents/2020.09.18.01%20-%20MDH%20Order%20-%20Amended%20Food%20Service%20Establishments.pdf. This new directive does not change things much for indoor dining establishments than did the directive from June 10, 2020:  Directive and Order Regarding Food Service Establishments.

Here is the information in the latest directive:

Limitations on Food Service Establishments

A. All food service establishments under Executive Order No. 20-09-18-01 who may serve food and beverages to customers for consumption in outdoor and indoor seating areas shall:

i. Modify floor plans to ensure customers are seated at least 6 feet away from each other, except for households or a group seated together. No more than six people may be seated at a table.

ii. For facilities with indoor booth seating, the social distance of 6 feet must be maintained by closing every other booth.

iii. For facilities with outdoor booth seating, as an alternative to closing every other booth, a plexiglass shield (or similar physical barrier) may separate adjacent booths from each other in order to satisfy the social distancing requirement, so long as the plexiglass shield is sufficient to prevent persons in adjacent booths from any physical contact while either seated or standing (i.e., a height of at least 6 feet from the floor to the top of the shield).

iv. Establish a 6-foot marking system to visually demonstrate the recommended social distancing at all locations where customers and staff congregate.

v. Customers seated at the bar must comply with the appropriate social distancing guidelines of at least 6 feet, except for households or a group seated together. Standing in a bar area should not be permitted.

vi. Clean and disinfect each table between each seating as well as all high touch surfaces. Cleaning products should be appropriate for food contact surfaces that still meet EPA criteria for use against COVID-19.

vii. Food may not be served in a buffet or self-service format. viii. Total capacity of an indoor food service establishment shall not exceed 75% of that facility’s maximum occupancy as defined in the Executive Order No. 20-09-18-01.

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Not much changed….added a part about outdoor booths in the latest…and increased the capacity % up to 75%…otherwise the rules seem to be the same. I just do not see how many (or any) establishments can come close to 75% capacity with the directive. I understand the rules…just do not see 75% as a possibility for most establishments.

Scott E

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