Madeleine O’NeillUSA TODAY
Restaurants and bars in Maryland can stay open past 10 p.m. starting Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan said, citing improving COVID-19 metrics.
The 10 p.m. curfew has been in place since mid-November, when Hogan announced a series of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the raging pandemic.
He said at a news conference in November that the state had seen an uptick in Marylanders who were exposed to COVID-19 in bars and restaurants, and that compliance with public health rules falls after 10 p.m.
On Thursday, Hogan said the situation in Maryland has improved enough to reverse the rule. His new order takes effect on Feb. 1.
“With our data trends showing continued improvement, the holiday surges behind us, and the increasing speed of vaccinations, we are now able to take this step,” Hogan said in a news release.
Hogan’s office noted recent drops in hospitalizations, the statewide positivity rate and new COVID-19 cases.
Maryland’s COVID-19 metrics are trending down from their recent peaks, but total case numbers aren’t much different than they were in November, when cases were spiking to new highs.
Maryland’s Department of Health reported 2,190 new cases Thursday, a tally that’s much lower than the 3,758 cases reported earlier this month.
It is slightly higher, however, than the 2,149 daily cases reported on Nov. 17, when Hogan announced the restaurant curfew.https://921d7ec1f9efac519ba73817998bb410.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Maryland’s positivity rate is now 6.15%, which is the lowest the state has seen since Nov. 13.
Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-Eastern Shore) thanked Hogan for easing the restrictions on restaurants and bars, which now can close based on what the local laws are.
“This much-needed relief for our small businesses will go a long way in helping them stay open for the long haul,” Carozza said in a news release.
Hogan on Thursday also announced an additional $30 million for the state’s relief program for restaurants and food service establishments. The grants are being distributed by local jurisdictions.