Distilled (copy)

In this Aug. 23, 2020, file photo, Distilled manager and co-owner Michael Raffo holds one of Distilled’s 25 cocktail options, a Maryland Sour, in the dining room of the the new eatery on Shorebird Drive.

Citing improved coronavirus metrics across Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that restaurants and bars will be permitted to stay open past 10 p.m. starting on Monday.

“With our data showing continued improvement, the holiday surge behind us and the increasing speed of vaccinations, we are now able to take this step,” Hogan (R) said in a prepared statement. “Marylanders must continue to remain cautious and vigilant in order to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe and healthy.”

The decision to take the step in Frederick County ultimately rests with County Executive Jan Gardner (D), however. Through a spokesperson, Gardner said she was still reviewing Hogan’s emergency order shortly after it was announced Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, for local bars and restaurants, the potential return to later hours is welcome news.

Wade Newman, owner of Shuckin’ Shack on North Market Street, said that while dinner service has remained fairly steady, having hours past 10 p.m. will make a huge difference in the bar side of the business.

Pre-pandemic, about 30 percent of Shuckin’ Shack’s revenue was made between 10 p.m. and closing on the weekends. Those are prime hours for sports games, Newman said, and not being able to remain open for them has been a big hindrance.

“We’ve kind of missed out on a lot of the sports aspect and then just the hanging out and all that,” he said. “We will definitely do much better being open past 10 o clock.”

Mike Raffo, co-owner of Distilled on Shorebird Street, said the restaurant and cocktail bar plans to return to its normal hours, remaining open until 2 a.m. daily.

“As soon as we had to start closing at 10 p.m., we saw a decrease in our business by about 50 percent,” Raffo said.

Hogan made the announcement as the Maryland Department of Health reported 2,190 new cases of COVID-19. That’s a drop of more than 40 percent from early December when new cases were at their all-time high.

Hospitalizations have dropped by 11 percent over the past two weeks, and the state’s seven-day rolling positivity rate (6.15 percent) is as low as it’s been since Nov. 13.

Hogan has allocated an additional $30 million to Maryland’s relief program for food service establishments to the $50 million that was announced in October.

In order to take advantage of the grants, restaurants must apply through the county.

The money can then be used for rent, payroll, job training, equipment purchases and to expand outdoor dining with tents, heaters and carts, among other things.

At her press briefing Thursday morning — before Hogan’s announcement — Gardner said a cumulative of $1.2 million had been deposited this week in the bank accounts of 246 Frederick County food-service providers through a grant program.

That is on top of the $2.5 million in grant money that was handed out to more than 200 county food-service companies in early November.

Follow Greg Swatek on Twitter: @greg_swatek

(9) comments

Mtairyrez

Very happy I do not live in Montgomery County. Ya'll know exactly what I mean.

bosco

Follow the science and statistics. Very, very few Covid cases are traced back to bars and restaurants - if New York states statistics are to be believed. They just discovered that Cuomo under reported nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent.

Fredginrickey

In Frederick, nearly every week a restaurant or bar temporarily closes due to employees having COVID. Guess their staff must frequently visit NY nursing homes

WalkTheTown

Usually 2-3 restaurants at a time. In fairness, if the people who work there were exposed to COVID at the restaurant, but the fact that the restaurants close down when exposure occurs isn't optimistic for staying open even later when people are likely hanging out and drinking more.

vodalone

Sorry but that's just not accurate. Bars and restaurants are the main places of spread as people have to take off their masks to eat and drink while there. It only makes sense.

ragramm

[thumbup]

bosco

Sorry, vodalone, but I was just sharing the statistics from New York State, as I stated. An online article from "Eater" magazine reported on the stats:

"Restaurants and bars accounted for 1.43 percent of COVID-19 cases recorded between September through the end of November, according to contact tracing data.

The figure places the industry as the fifth-largest contributor to spreading COVID-19 in the state, following education employees (1.5 percent), higher-education students (2.02 percent), and healthcare delivery (7.81 percent).

The largest contributor to COVID-19 spread in New York, by far, is private household and social gatherings. According to the state, 73.84 percent of COVID-19 cases spread through private gatherings."

vodalone

Sept. - Nov. is still outdoor dining time, I don't believe indoor dining was even permitted in NYC during that time so establishments setup outdoors. Makes sense spread was so low since people were outside, during winter months when outdoor dining is not really possible in this part of the country, indoor eating and drinking is sure to be a larger contributor than 1.43% of infection.

BornToHula2

The US has been pretty bad at contact tracing, I wonder what percentage of overall infections they were able to trace back. Easier to trace if someone got it from relatives than a stranger in a restaurant.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-superspreader-events-venues-include-restaurants-gyms-hotels/

https://jkms.org/DOIx.php?id=10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e415

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