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Howard County to follow Maryland’s new COVID guidance, will lift capacity limits at restaurants, stores

Howard County on Wednesday evening announced that it would align with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s latest announcement to lift capacity limits on restaurants, retail stores, religious facilities, gyms/fitness centers and personal services beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.

The county’s previous limits for indoor and outdoor social gatherings — which had been capped at 50% capacity — are also set to be lifted Friday.

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“During the last month, we have seen our key metrics trending in the right direction, and significantly decreasing from the peak of our holiday surge,” County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement. “We will continue watching our data very closely over the next two weeks, and if aligning with the governor’s decision is detrimental to the health and welfare of our residents, we will not hesitate to reimpose restrictions.”

The capacity limits being lifted also include indoor recreation, casinos, bingo halls and skating rinks.

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Large venues will now be able to house 50% capacity while masking and physical distancing measures remain in place. Those venues include theaters, concert halls, conventions, conferences, wedding venues, racing facilities, and outdoor entertainment and sporting facilities.

“The health department tracks COVID-19 data on a daily basis and the most important metrics in Howard County remain stable,” Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County health officer, said in a statement. “While these limitations are being eased, it remains important that we all follow the same prevention measures of wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings, washing our hands, and getting the vaccine when able to prevent another spike in COVID-19 cases in our community.”

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