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Thanksgiving Eve coronavirus patrols net zero arrests for Maryland State Police

Maryland State Police “high visibility compliance units” checked more than 730 bars and restaurants for compliance with pandemic restrictions on Thanksgiving Eve. Troopers issued a handful of warnings and made no arrests.
Maryland State Police “high visibility compliance units” checked more than 730 bars and restaurants for compliance with pandemic restrictions on Thanksgiving Eve. Troopers issued a handful of warnings and made no arrests. (Brian Krista / Carroll County Times)

Maryland State Police troopers made no arrests during Thanksgiving Eve patrols that had been touted by Gov. Larry Hogan.

On Monday, the Republican governor warned against “reckless” behavior on what traditionally has been a big night for drinking and bar hopping as people return to their hometowns for the holiday. He announced troopers in “high visibility compliance units” would be out across the state.

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The state police announced Thursday that troopers checked more than 730 bars and restaurants across the state on Wednesday and found that staff and patrons largely were complying with restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Troopers issued fewer than 10 warnings for people who weren’t wearing masks or weren’t following rules on physical distancing, according to the state police.

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Bars and restaurants are required to shut down by 10 p.m. and are limited to operating at 50% capacity under a state order. In Baltimore City, bars and restaurants can only operate at 25% capacity.

From midday Wednesday through midday Friday, the state’s COVID-19 compliance hotline received more than 200 phone calls and emails, which were forwarded to local officials.

Bars and restaurants have been an area of concern for government officials, who believe that compliance with mask wearing and physical distancing may slip as the night wears on and patrons drink more.

The Thanksgiving holiday has also been identified as having potential for transmitting the virus, as families travel and gather for the meal. Health officials have repeatedly cautioned families only to celebrate with their immediate household, though a University of Maryland survey released this week showed 44% of Marylanders had not canceled their in-person plans.

The latest surge of the coronavirus pandemic continued on the holiday, with another 2,319 new cases and 29 deaths reported in Maryland. Hospitals were treating 1,453 coronavirus patients, including 339 in intensive care. Maryland last saw such high hospitalization levels during the first wave in the spring.

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