Restaurants To Open Later

Friends enjoy dinner and drinks outside Brewer’s Alley Feb. 4. From left are Kala Rae, Barbara Swanhart and Jamila Zaida.

Restaurants and bars across Frederick County will be able to return to their normal hours of business and serve alcohol past 10 p.m. after an executive order restricting them expired Monday.

The order was lifted by County Executive Jan Gardner (D), who cited improving coronavirus metrics to justify her decision.

“While Frederick County has made progress with vaccinations and seen improvement in the trend of new cases, positivity rates, and cases per 100,000 population, which provide a sense of optimism, the virus is still with us,” Gardner said in a prepared statement. “Precautions and health directives need to continue to be followed.”

Restaurants and bars still must abide by Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order for food establishments that require them to operate at no more than 50 percent capacity and maintain 6 feet of distance between tables with no more than six allowed to sit at a table. All patrons must wear masks except when they are eating and drinking, and there is no congregating at the bar.

Still, the lifting of the executive order was welcome news for restaurants and bars that had been operating under it since Nov. 17. Hogan (R) had lifted parts of the order on Jan. 28, which allowed restaurants and bars to stay open past 10 p.m. But Gardner left that restriction in place until Feb. 4 in the county when she allowed them to stay open past 10 p.m. but not serve alcohol after that hour.

Monday’s decision by Gardner not to renew the executive order removes that restriction.

Wade Newman, owner of Shuckin’ Shack on South Market Street, said much of the bar and restaurant’s revenue comes from late nights. The restaurant will start staying open until midnight this week.

“I think that’s fantastic. We had closed at 10 for a while, and they allowed us to stay open til midnight, but it’s just too much hassle at that point,” Newman said. “There’s no point in staying open if you can’t serve alcohol.”

Brewer’s Alley on North Market Street is also planning on staying open later again, but management has not yet determined set hours.

Manager Justin Gosnell said the previous order was confusing, especially since many customers didn’t seem to know about it.

“It’s just kind of hard to tell a guest that they can stay here til 11:30 but we can’t serve past 10 o’clock,” he said.

Gardner’s announcement about the order’s expiration did not arrive until almost 6 p.m. Monday, several hours after it officially expired. So most businesses were going to have to wait until Tuesday before any changes could be implemented.

At her weekly public information briefing last Thursday, Gardner said that a high number of coronavirus patients at Frederick Health Hospital made it unclear if she was going to allow the executive order to expire.

But the number of virus-related hospitalizations in the county dropped by almost 10 over the past four days, which led Gardner to lift the order.

Gardner also said last Thursday that she would revisit an executive order limiting indoor recreational activities once hospitalization numbers came down. No decision has been announced on that yet.

There were 24 new COVID-19 infections reported in the county Monday, which is the fewest number since Oct. 27. That brings the overall number of confirmed cases in the county to 16,715.

Across Maryland, there were 611 new infections and 17 virus-related deaths reported, although none of the deaths occurred in Frederick County.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s rolling seven-day positivity rate dropped below 4 percent for the first time since Nov. 2. It now stands at 3.91 percent.

In addition, nearly 1.1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Maryland, and the state is now averaging more than 27,000 shots per day.

“While we wait on the federal government to get us more vaccines, this is another encouraging indication that we are making real progress against this deadly pandemic,” Hogan said in a prepared statement. “While fewer Marylanders are becoming seriously ill, we need to keep taking precautions so that we can remain on the road to recovery.”

Follow Greg Swatek on Twitter: @greg_swatek

(8) comments

threecents

The FNP likes to show that photo and with good reason. It says it all.

vodalone

The priority should be to keep essential operations open, such as schools, not bars and restaurants. If schools in the county are to stay at hybrid and hopefully evolve to more days for in person learning, the bars should be sacrificed.

The good news as more and more experts have noted is we're approaching a level of herd immunity where spikes or outbreaks won't be as dramatic as they were this winter.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/well-have-herd-immunity-by-april-11613669731

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9281941/Another-epidemiologist-says-possible-approaching-COVID-herd-immunity.html

PurplePickles aka L&M

Common sense and science tell us that SCHOOLS being open are way more important than bars and restaurants...and yet.....here Jan goes not following science nor common sense it seems.

FlagstaffTM

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/interactive/2021/500000-covid-deaths-visualized/?itid=hp-top-table-main

Greg F

Well, let's see how this goes. Even outside, FNP posts a pic with people not even 6' apart and not a mask in sight. Just because you may have gotten the vaccine, doesn't mean you can't get it and then spread it. You just won't die or get too sick. There are enough of us who won't get vaccines for months, and some people that think somehow they're immune or some mythical god will protect them. Dollars to donuts we see a spike.

Dwasserba

I had a unique conversation on Sunday with one of my friends in NC, telling me about her friend who had just found out she has covid after MONTHS of thinking her allergies since moving to FL were the worst ever. Oh no she has covid, said my friend, and I said, oh no, how many others has she infected??! It was as if it had not occurred to them. How is that possible. I always have allergies. Living with them can be annoying. But the idea that I could kill others while only being mildly affected by comparison will keep me in my mask.

Greg F

That's it exactly. You will likely never know whom you infected and possibly negatively impacted their health long term or even whom you killed. That mask enforcement was not done and fines actually levied, we taught people that nobody else matters. "Me first" similarly to 'Murica first that many of the non-wearing folks swear by. No thought to anyone else as it must be socialist to think and have empathy for anyone else.

PurplePickles aka L&M

@Greg F

Following the science/metrics tells Jan she can loosen the restrictions a tad, but following common sense should also tell her that loosening the restrictions will cause a spike to happen, it always does, the picture they used for article is a perfect example of why the numbers are going to spike again, look at the irresponsible behavior on display...not enough people are vaccinated yet to make that a reason for loosening the restrictions. , hopefully she isn't using that as a reason also?

It's too bad that common sense and science can't be one and the same..,,because following common sense and science at the same time should tell Jan that loosening restrictions right now is not what she should be doing. I always thought science and common sense went hand in hand??? I mean they should be followed at the same time ....just think if we had followed science and common sense at the same time we probably would be free by now....

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