Search

AAC reopens more: Was the criteria met?

Updated: Jul 8


This story has been updated:


Citing declining metrics regarding COVID-19 cases, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman has announced that restaurants and bars can open for outdoor seating service on Friday, May 29 at 5:00 p.m. under state guidelines.


According to Governor Hogan's Executive Order 20-05-27-01, outdoor restaurant seating during the pandemic requires restaurants to:


1. Ensure All staff wear Face Coverings, in accordance with the Face Coverings Order


2. Ensure patrons are seated at least six feet away from each other, except for households seated together


3. Not allow groups larger than six persons to be seated together, except members of the same household


4. Not serve food in a buffet format


5. Clean and disinfect each table between each seating in accordance with CDC and MDH guidelines, using cleaning products that meet the criteria of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against COVID-19.


The county Office of Planning and Zoning will authorize outdoor seating for food and beverage service uses as a temporary use for up to 180 days, until or unless the emergency is lifted or revised by Executive Order. A permit application is not required for this temporary use, if it complies with specific criteria. Specific details and guidance are available on the county’s Road to Recovery web page.


He also advanced the date for the opening of retail businesses to coincide with restaurants.


The announcements come after County Executive Pittman consulted with health officials and his recovery workgroup, which includes health, business, and faith leaders, as well as two members of the County Council.


As recently as Tuesday May 19, Pittman said in a teleconference: "This is gonna be a long process of reopening. And nobody can say exactly when what is going to happen, because there are so many factors that are outside of our control."


County Executive Pittman expects to sign two executive orders Friday, May 29, before 5:00 p.m. to put these new policies in place.

“I am able to make these announcements today because our public health recovery metrics have improved, and our staff has delivered the regulatory changes needed to move forward more quickly than expected,” said County Executive Pittman. “We are able to move from the blunt tools of shutdown to the sharper tools of testing, contact tracing, and innovative safety measures that our businesses have developed.”


The metrics Pittman was referring too were supplied by the county, yet an examination of the last two weeks of Anne Arundel County's COVID-19 case statistics, shown by the County Health Dashboard shows that:


Between May 11 to May 28, the number of new cases each day varied considerably, from a low of 25 new cases between Friday May 22 and Saturday May 23 to a high of 108 new cases between May 27 and May 28--the days before the latest reopening round was to begin.


With the exception of two instances (May 21-23 and May 25-28) the number of cases of COVID-19 cycled between a drop in cases and a gain in cases ten times in the 17 days between May 11 and May 27. They did not appear to consistently drop over two weeks.


But Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines call for 7 decreasing days out of the last 14 days. CDC uses a 3-day rolling average to determine a period of 14 days of declining cases. There is a “grace period” of 5 days which cases may increase for no more than 5 consecutive days and will still be considered an overall decrease.


While these two analyses of appear to conflict, the CDC method of analyzing COVID-19 statistics is widely used.


As of May 28, the death rate among people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Anne Arundel County is 4.3 percent. The death rate for the entire state of Maryland on the same day was 4.64 percent.


Recommendations on reopening jurisdictions for business put out by the federal government earlier in May called for a two-week downward trajectory on recorded daily COVID-19 statistics.

Beginning Friday, May 29 at 5 p.m.: Non-essential businesses that are currently operating under curbside pickup only are able to open to customers. The maximum number of occupants (customers and employees) will be calculated based on 150 square feet per person. Businesses will be required to have protective measures in place regarding physical distancing and face coverings will be required for everyone in the store. Specific details and guidance are available on the county’s Road to Recovery web page.

Food service establishments, which include restaurants, bars, and social clubs with dining facilities, may serve food and beverages for consumption in outdoor seating areas in accordance with state guidance.


The county Office of Planning and Zoning will authorize outdoor seating for food and beverage service uses as a temporary use for up to 180 days, until or unless the emergency is lifted or revised by Executive Order. A permit application is not required for this temporary use, if it complies with specific criteria. Specific details and guidance are available on the county’s Road to Recovery web page.

Barbers and beauty salons may open for hair services only. The maximum number of occupants will be calculated based on 100 gross square feet per person due to the small footprint of many facilities and the necessity of closer personal interaction in order for services to be provided. Specific details and guidance are also available on the county's Road to Recovery web page.

Additional Recreation and Parks amenities will open:

  • Dog parks

  • Dog beaches

  • County park beaches

  • Pavilions (reservations required)

Private youth camps are allowed to open under state guidance.

Swimming at county or community beaches is no longer prohibited, but swimmers are advised that no routine bacteria testing has been conducted. Swimmers swim at their own risk until water quality monitoring can resume. 

Beginning June 1 at 8:00 a.m.: Additional Recreation and Parks amenities will open:

  • Athletic fields for youth skills training only - no organized activities (usual field permitting for accredited organizations is required) 

  • Basketball courts

Beginning June 5: Beginning June 5, seasonal outdoor pools will be inspected on a rolling basis. Pools can open once they are approved. Seasonal outdoor pools are inspected each spring prior to their opening and this year those inspections were postponed due to the suspension of all non-essential activity.  Beginning July 6:

  • Modified county outdoor day camps begin (camps will be limited to 10, 8 children and 2 staff)

  • Registration will begin June 11

  • Traditional Camps are cancelled

  • Speciality Camps are delayed to July/August

No additional actions are being announced with regard to houses of worship and religious institutions at this time. They remain opened for up to 10 people at a time for individual ministry. County Executive Pittman met with more than 50 pastors and faith leaders today and is working towards a plan to safely expand the capacity allowed in our houses of worship. The following remain closed until further notice:

  • Senior Centers

  • Fitness Centers 

  • Movie Theaters (including “pop-up” drive-in theaters) 

  • Shopping Malls 

  • Nail Salons

  • Playgrounds

  • County park visitors centers

  • County park restrooms

  • Indoor aquatic centers

  • Recreation centers


--The majority of this article was provided as a press release from Anne Arundel County. Additional information was compiled from COVID-19 statistics provided by Anne Arundel County's COVID-19 website.