BETHESDA, Md. — New restrictions are in effect for the state of Maryland after Gov. Larry Hogan announced the state is in the “red zone." A metric used to gauge the COVID-19 spread in Maryland.
One of the restrictions aims directly at the food and beverage industry. It will close all bars, restaurants, and clubs in the state close at 10 p.m. beginning Friday. according to the governor's mandate.
The mandate does allow for carryout and delivery will still be available beyond that time.
Hogan said they have seen widespread failures to follow orders and public health advisories statewide.
“This action was made in consultation with our coronavirus recovery task force and representatives of the industry based on increasing reports that compliance with public health protocols dropped dramatically later in the evening,” Hogan said.
As the mandate is set to go into effect Friday, restaurant owners said they are bracing for even more potential setbacks.
“This is the worst calamity to befall retail and restaurants that I've ever experienced in 30 years of business,” John McManus, owner of the Barking Dog Restaurant and Bar in Bethesda said. “The closing at 10 p.m. at night ... that is going to kill the bar business, It is going to kill the opportunity for people to go out and eat because nobody is going to go out to eat at nine o'clock if they know they have to leave by 10 p.m.”
McManus said the increased restrictions come after an already tumultuous year for the restaurant industry that has had dramatic impacts from COVID-19.
“I suspect in December, you are going to see a mountain of places closing and never reopen,” McManus said. “Most businesses can support a one week, two-week, three-week, crunch in business. But a nine-month, one-year crunch in business with little relief? No one's going to survive. It's going to be virtually the end of retail for a lot of these small businesses, they just will not be able to survive.”
The Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) said the state’s restaurant and food service industry has lost approximately $1.4 billion in sales since the start of the pandemic and as many as 150,000 restaurant staff members have been furloughed or laid off.
“The Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) still projects that 40% of all of the restaurants — equivalent to 4,000 restaurants — in the state of Maryland could close permanently under mandated restrictions,” a RAM statement said.
Hogan encouraged Marylanders to support their local restaurants via delivery and carryout, something McManus also encourages people to continue.
“You don't have to be afraid of carryout, you don't have to be afraid of delivery,” McManus said. “And I think for a lot of people that's the best way that you can support some of the smaller local businesses.”