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Baltimore mayor to decide by Friday whether to roll back coronavirus restrictions

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced that he will look at the data to determine if any changes need to be made to the COVID-19 guidelines in Baltimore.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said he will make a decision by Friday about whether to roll back any of the city’s current coronavirus-related restrictions.

The city is entering its fourth week under an indoor and outdoor dining ban, instituted by Scott during his first week in office. Restaurants have remained open for delivery and takeout service, but the dining ban has been criticized by the city’s restaurant owners who have operated under some level of restrictions since March.

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The latest restrictions also include caps at 25% of capacity for retail and religious institutions, gyms, malls and museums.

During a news conference Tuesday, Scott said coronavirus cases in the city have decreased by 19% in comparison to the last four weeks. But city Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa noted that decrease does not reflect the full period when people may have been infected over the holidays.

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“We will be looking at data and hospitals, what impact travel and gatherings around Christmas and New Year’s had on our data, and will make a decision,” Scott said, pledging to give business owners a full week’s notice before any changes.

Asked if lifting certain restrictions was off the table, such as the ban on indoor dining, Scott said no.

“We are going to be guided by the data we referenced,” the Democrat said. “That’s what will guide our decision. Nothing else.”

The city’s current coronavirus restrictions have no expiration date, however Scott’s staff said he will revisit the plan every four weeks to discuss changes.

As they have been through much of the pandemic, Baltimore’s coronavirus restrictions are stricter than the statewide guidelines outlined by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and several surrounding jurisdictions. The governor has limited most indoor establishments to 50% capacity, and state rules permit indoor and outdoor dining until 10 p.m. each day.

Baltimore officials also announced that another 2,600 doses of the coronavirus vaccine will begin to be distributed Tuesday.

The city initially received 100 doses of the coronavirus vaccine, which were used to vaccinate officials who will be administering the vaccine. The additional doses arrived last week and will be given to first responders and healthcare workers at Under Armour’s Port Covington campus, which is operating as a point of dispensing (or POD) under guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control.

That vaccine allocation does not include doses sent directly to hospitals within the city, which are in charge of vaccinating their own employees.

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