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Allowed to resume limited indoor dining, some Fells Point restaurants say not yet

Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen shared support for restaurants that are voluntarily deciding not to reopen indoor dining options even at reduced capacity.

Given the OK to resume limited indoor dining on Friday night, a group of Fells Point restaurants said thanks, but no thanks.

With City Councilman Zeke Cohen praising them for “putting human health above profits in this incredibly important moment,” at least 18 restaurants there said that they would continue to offer only outdoor dining and takeout.

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Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young had announced on Thursday that Baltimore restaurants could welcome diners back indoors at 25% capacity starting on Friday evening. Two weeks ago, as the number of coronavirus cases rose in the city and state, he had banned all indoor dining.

While thanking Young for the option, the restaurant owners said they had lingering concerns that indoor dining could contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

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The restaurants include some of the most well-known in the historic waterfront neighborhood, including Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant, The Wharf Rat, Thames Street Oyster House, Bertha’s, Abbey Burger Bistro, Pierpoint Restaurant and Cat’s Eye Pub.

Darin Mislan, owner of The Admiral's Cup in Fells Point, held a news conference to support businesses that are voluntarily deciding not to reopen indoor dining options, despite Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young's statement that restaurants up to 25% indoor capacity would be allowed.
Darin Mislan, owner of The Admiral's Cup in Fells Point, held a news conference to support businesses that are voluntarily deciding not to reopen indoor dining options, despite Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young's statement that restaurants up to 25% indoor capacity would be allowed. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Sun)

The group was organized by Darin Mislan, who owns The Admiral’s Cup in Fells Point, outside of which Cohen and some of the restaurateurs gathered Friday night to show support for the group’s decision to abstain from indoor dining for now.

“There is a moral obligation that these business owners feel to not spread COVID-19,” said Cohen, who represents the 1st District. “Unfortunately Baltimore is trending in the wrong direction and my district in particular, 21224, has truly suffered.”

That ZIP code, which includes Canton and Highlandtown, has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state. Bars and restaurants in Canton have had to close periodically after employees tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Now is just not the time to be having people inside,” Cohen said. “We should be restricting more, not opening up more.”

The restaurant owners said they would continue monitoring the situation and might open for indoor dining at some point. In the meantime, they said, they encouraged diners to enjoy the expanded outdoor seating in the neighborhood.

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