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National Aquarium in Baltimore Inner Harbor closed by city health department for improper social distancing

The National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was shuttered by the city health department Sunday for violating social distancing guidelines.

Baltimore City Health Department spokesman Adam Abadir said it was “temporarily” closed after a health inspection and after warnings were issued about overcrowding and lack of social distancing at several aquarium exhibits.

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“No citations or fines are associated with the closure,” Abadir said. “Our teams are working with the National Aquarium’s leadership and are reviewing their COVID-19 reopening plans, to resolve these health and safety concerns as quickly as possible.”

The National Aquarium is closed by Baltimore City Health Department on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, for "not maintaining social distancing at the exhibits" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Aquarium is closed by Baltimore City Health Department on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, for "not maintaining social distancing at the exhibits" during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kenneth K. Lam)

The aquarium said that over the past several days it had visits from several health inspectors and the fire marshal and that while the majority of the feedback was “positive” there were some concerns that the aquarium is working to fix.

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A spokesperson said the aquarium is working with the health department and will be sharing revised protocols and new measures to mitigate social distancing concerns.

“We will continue to work in close partnership with the health department, the fire marshal and the City to ensure we are doing all we can to provide a safe visit for our guests,” an aquarium spokesperson said in a statement. “We look forward to mitigating these final areas of concern and reopening shortly.”

Baltimore City is capped at 25% capacity for retail, attractions and museums, which includes in the aquarium.

Although Abadir said there are no fines, the aquarium could have faced a fine up to $5,000 or one year in jail, and potentially both for violating Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order during a state of emergency.

A sign on a television screen shows that the National Aquarium is closed.
A sign on a television screen shows that the National Aquarium is closed. (Kenneth K. Lam)

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