With the new guidance from Governor Hogan with lifting capacity limits and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball deciding to Align with Governor on COVID-19 Restrictions I thought it would be good to update my readers on the rules for bars and restaurants (at least to the best of my ability).

Remember the new rules start on March 12th at 5:00pm.

You can find this information here: https://govstatus.egov.com/md-coronavirus-business/closures-restrictions-enforcement

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Capacity limits will be lifted on outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants and bars, retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, gaming and racing facilities, personal services, and indoor recreational establishments.

Bars and restaurants will be open for seated and distanced service only—patrons may not stand at a crowded bar. Masking, physical distancing, and other safety protocols will remain in place.

  • For indoor restaurants, table limits are increased from 6-10 people.
  • Every booth can be utilized indoors with appropriate divider separation, as opposed to every other booth.
  • Buffets are allowed to operate with precautions


The “physical distancing, and other safety protocols will remain in place” part of the rules above means (if I am reading this correctly):

  • Modify floor plans to ensure patrons are seated at least 6 feet away from each other, except for households or a group seated together.
  • Customers need to be seated at the bar or at a table to be served and must comply with the appropriate social distancing guideline of at least 6 feet. Standing is not permitted.

I took the information about distancing from this document: https://commerce.maryland.gov/Documents/BusinessResource/Restaurants-bars-COVID-19-Best-Practices.pdf

I attempted to call the Maryland Department of Commerce to confirm the information on distancing and the published number (410-767-6300) goes to voicemail. I left a voice message and am now waiting to hear back. I also sent an email to (For general inquiries, please contact communications.commerce@maryland.gov) and I am waiting to hear back on that communication as well.

If I hear anything that changes the information above I will update this article.

Here are links for Best Practices (they are now a little out of date with the latest guidance but still can be somewhat useful):

Restaurants and Bars | Maryland Department of Health Order | Signage Template | Foodservice Establishment FAQ 

Hopefully new information (or a new graphic) comes out soon from the State better outlining the new rules for these businesses.

One last reminder: Each county or jurisdiction can decide to follow the new guidance from the state or impose stricter guidance. I would keep an eye on your area of interest as it looks like not every place will be implementing these new rules right away.

Scott E

1 COMMENT

  1. Montgomery County’s executive posted an intelligent response to this:
    https://montgomerycomd.blogspot.com/2021/03/message-from-county-executive-marc.html

    Maryland is one of the only states with all 3 COVID variants circulating; infection rates are higher than last summer, and only 20% of the population is vaccinated. Some of our elected officials seem to be spinally challenged, kowtowing to business interests by re-opening prematurely even if it means another wave of infections and death. Hopefully, HoCo residents will be smart and follow CDC guidelines at least until the summer when most have been vaccinated.

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