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Baltimore County to partially reopen indoor dining, gyms and malls

Baltimore County will continue to follow Gov. Larry Hogan’s lead in further reopening indoor dining, gyms, casinos and malls at 50% capacity.

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, county restaurants will be allowed to reopen for dining-in options limited to 50% capacity, with tables at least 6 feet apart and other public health protective measures. Outdoor pools now will be allowed to accommodate users at 50% capacity.

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Outdoor amusement activities like miniature golf and go-karts also will be authorized to reopen Friday.

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, June 19, county gyms, dance studios and martial arts facilities, as well as casinos, arcades and malls, are permitted to open at 50% as long as they enforce social-distancing guidelines and public health requirements.

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Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. had been slower to adopt the governor’s reopening measures, but said earlier this month that “the state’s patchwork approach to reopening has confused residents, put businesses on an unequal playing field, and limited the impact of an individual jurisdiction’s public health efforts.”

Hogan has left it up to jurisdictional leaders to decide whether to keep more stringent restrictions in place as he has pushed to reopen the state’s economy. Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have adopted slower reopening plans than Hogan allowed.

Olszewski said in a statement there has been “sustained progress in key indicators" of the county’s criteria to reopen nonessential businesses, noting Baltimore County’s positivity rate from coronavirus tests are “now the lowest among Maryland’s large counties.”

An average of 68 new cases, and 686 total cases, have been confirmed so far this month. Hospitalizations, too, have been trending downward.

Olszewski warned residents to “remain cautious," especially those who are older or have other underlying health conditions that put them more at risk for complications due to coronavirus.

“It is critical to remember that this disease is still very much with us,” Olszewski said in a statement. “Without a cure or vaccine, more people will get sick, and more families will lose loved ones. We must remain vigilant and prepare for the potential of a second spike of infections.”

During a Wednesday news conference, Hogan said the loosened restrictions will only be safe if people continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“The fight against this virus is far from over,” Hogan said.

Tattoo and massage parlors, tanning and nail salons, and other nonessential businesses were authorized last week to reopen at 50% capacity, and by appointment only.

Outdoor pools; outdoor dining at bars and restaurants; golf courses and driving ranges; outdoor archery and shooting ranges; marinas and watercraft rentals; campgrounds; horse boarding and riding facilities; drive-in movie theaters; outdoor day camps and tour boats were allowed to resume operations under previous orders.

For more information on coronavirus restrictions in Baltimore County, go to https://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/News/coronavirus.html.

Baltimore Sun reporter Wilborn Nobles contributed to this report.

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