Frederick County executive holds back on increasing capacity in restaurants after surge in COVID-19 cases 

The struggle to stay afloat for many businesses around the DMV continues as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

That includes Frederick County, Maryland, which will not increase capacity inside restaurants and bars. 

County Executive Jan Gardner told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan Wednesday, that even though the county’s positivity rate has been below five percent for quite some time, there was a slight bump in the number of new cases.

READ MORE: Gov. Larry Hogan expands capacity for indoor dining; marks start of first Maryland Restaurant Week

As of Monday, the seven-day average for new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people was at 9.85. 

She said the number is higher than compared to the number of cases popping up in neighboring Montgomery and Howard counties.

But regardless of whether it’s 50 percent indoor capacity or at 75, restaurants and bars like Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick are far from being able to operate normally.

Some restaurant managers and owners said that even if indoor capacity were to increase, not everybody is comfortable eating inside restaurants or attending indoor events yet.

“We are living off of borrowed money right now and if we continue doing that then it’s a recipe for failure,” said Gary Allen, vice president of Champion Billiards Sports Bar.

And it’s not just food establishments feeling the hit, the entertainment and events industry is another field that has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.

“We can have bands but can’t have anybody dancing and all of our bands are dancing and partying so it’s useless doing that right now,” said Allen. “We lost millions and right now we had to lay off 12 to 13 full-time employees which is very sad,” said Shawn Hocherl, Vice President of Showtime Sound LLC.

Hocherl said that this was supposed to be a peak year for touring but all of those plans have been scrapped. 

His company is currently operating with providing audio and visual for the drive-in movies at the Frederick Fairgrounds.

But he said that it would take a lot more outdoor events to bring the company back to where it was before the pandemic. 

“With the limitations on capacities of venues there’s just no way event companies like mine are going to be able to sustain another 8 months of zero income and what income there can be is very low dollar,” said Hocherl.

So why the spike in cases in Frederick County? Gardner said the recent bump falls on the aftermath of the Labor Day holiday. 

“There’s a certain percentage of the population that doesn’t want to wear masks and so I know we had a lot of events over the Labor Day weekend just like we did over the Fourth of July,” said Gardner.

Gardner said that Thursday, she is planning to meet with representatives of the restaurant industry to talk about what they can do moving forward and that includes trying to secure more funding from the CARES act.

She said that the office of economic development has already planned to introduce a grant program in order to support outdoor heaters and the fuel those will need in order to help extend outdoor dining.