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Baltimore closes Fells Point streets for alfresco dining through late summer due to coronavirus

Closures in Fells Point start Thursday and run through September 7.
Closures in Fells Point start Thursday and run through September 7. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

The city’s plan to close streets for more outdoor dining is becoming a reality, at least in Fells Point.

The Baltimore City Department of Transportation announced this week Fells Point traffic closures that will extend through late summer, including Thames Street from the southbound lane of Broadway to the west side of The Pendry, and the northbound lane of S. Broadway between Thames and Lancaster Streets.

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The closures start Thursday and run through September 7.

City and state officials have been working for months to facilitate outdoor dining in Baltimore, which is seen as a safer alternative to eating inside a restaurant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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In an executive order this summer allowing restaurants to permit outdoor dining, Gov. Larry Hogan encouraged local jurisdictions to close streets for that purpose. He later allowed Baltimore’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners to waive the $200 daily fee for temporary permit license extensions — which allow restaurants to serve alcohol beyond their normal footprint.

Restaurants are now permitted to serve indoors at half their usual capacity, but some health experts say that’s still not safe. In neighborhoods like Canton, at least 10 restaurants have closed in recent weeks as employees test positive for COVID-19.

Also starting Thursday, parking will be limited along Thames Street, Broadway and other areas of the waterfront neighborhood. Parking enforcement officers will ticket drivers who park in resident-only areas, including Aliceanna Street, Broadway, Thames Street and other neighborhood roadways.

The 800 block of S. Broadway on the southbound side will become a passenger loading zone to allow customers and delivery vehicles to pick up carryout orders. The zone is also available to trash and delivery trucks.

While acknowledging street closures could pose an inconvenience for some residents, officials have called it a necessary step to ensure the survival of the hospitality industry.

“We are not going to let our restaurant industry in the city fail,” Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello told The Baltimore Sun earlier this summer.

Separately, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore announced Thursday it will bring a traveling “parklet” with umbrellas, tables, benches and chairs to North Charles Street starting July 14.

The modular contraption designed by firms Design Collective and OE Customs will switch locations every two weeks, starting out in front of Cazbar, then moving to Homeslyce July 28 before Mick O’Sheas on August 11 and ending at The Civil on August 25.

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