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Businesses look forward to Maryland Restaurant Week amid pandemic

Tre Ward WBAL11 – #baltimore-md

BALTIMORE —

Restaurants in Maryland will soon be allowed to increase indoor capacity.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday that starting at 5 p.m. on Monday, restaurants in Maryland will be allowed to increase capacity from 50% to 75%. 

Hogan says there still has to be social distancing and the restaurants must follow strict health safety requirements. 

Many owners 11 News spoke with say they are happy about the chance to get more business in, but still plan to take precautions to keep you safe.

Serving up their best dishes under abnormal circumstances as renovations are now underway inside of Golden West Cafe in Hampden, in preparation for a safer dining experience.

“So, automatic toilets, faucets, soap dispensers — so that is more COVID-friendly,” Golden West Cafe owner Samantha Claassen said.

But in the meantime, an outdoor space for dining, only built a week ago, is just in time for Maryland Restaurant Week.

“In terms of survival, it is enormous. So yes, we’re taking full advantage of being able to have outdoor seating,” Claassen said.

And as customers feast on their meals, a new policy was announced at the start of the first-ever statewide restaurant week in hopes to bring in more customers inside to dine.

“At this point in time, we have restaurants that are half-empty that could be easily filled to 75% capacity that would allow patrons to eat,” said Marshall Weston, president of the Maryland Restaurant Association. 

And that’s the idea announced by Hogan as he visited some downtown Annapolis restaurants.

Beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday, indoor dining capacity will be allowed to expand from 50% to 75%.

The move is being met with some worry.

“Hopefully, there’s no outbreaks. I mean, it’s good for the businesses, so as long as everyone keeps all the procedures in place, I hope everything goes well,” said Paul Kameen, a restaurant customer.

But some businesses are prepared to adapt keeping patrons and employees safe and hopefully the doors open.

“For us, a lot of us are out here trying to do the best that we can, still bring people great food and do it for as long as we can,” Claassen said. 

The Maryland Office of Tourism has contributed $50,000 in sponsorship to support restaurant week.

Maryland Restaurant Week will go until Sept. 27.