LARGO, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - The Restaurant Association of Maryland is now calling on Governor Larry Hogan to reopen Maryland’s restaurants to dine-in seating when the governor announces Phase 2 of his “Roadmap to Recovery Plan," voicing frustrations with state guidance.
The Restaurant Association of Maryland also released its own guidance on what measures restaurants should take to safely reopen, including having employees go through a health screening before starting their shift.
The owner of Jasper’s Restaurant in Largo agrees with the association and tells FOX 5, he started implementing his own changes to ensure safety if dine-in resumes.
These changes include employee temperature checks, changing the faucets to no-touch faucets and installing barriers to separate tables.
Jasper’s owner Fred Rosenthal tells FOX 5 he’s owned the building since it was the BET Soundstage building and opened the restaurant about 20 years ago. Due to the pandemic, Rosenthal says he’s lost around $750,000 in sales at just this restaurant alone. He owns another restaurant in Frederick.
Rosenthal voiced frustration about not having a timeline. He also applauded the governor for enacting COVID-19 safety measures in March but is now also frustrated it’s on the county executives to decide whether restaurants can reopen.
“…which has created chaos,” said Rosenthal. “We see the boardwalk in Ocean City reopening with wall-to-wall people and yet we see areas that, we still don’t have anything open. So it’s been a frustrating point for us because we don’t know what the plan is."
Marshall Weston, president and CEO of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, tells FOX 5 the state is pushing toward around 50 percent of restaurants being closed due to the pandemic. The association projects about half of them will close-up shop for good.
“If we’re looking at 25 percent of all the restaurants closing, it not only affects the business owner and their employees, but all the businesses that do businesses with restaurants and the community is impacted negatively as well. So we’re really hoping we can get to the point where restaurants can reopen and begin to get back to the path of normal and as soon as we can,” said Weston.
“We understand that this pandemic has had a significant impact, not only on the health and well-being of Prince Georgians, but also our business community, which is why we have implemented relief programs to assist our local business owners doing this difficult time. While we want businesses, to include restaurants, to reopen as soon as possible, we must make sure that when we move to do so, our population does not become more ill. We will make decisions to reopen non-essential businesses based on what the data tells us,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in a statement.
“We have worked closely with the industry, and will issue guidance when the governor makes those decisions,” wrote the Governor’s spokesperson Mike Ricci in part of his response. “The governor certainly shares their frustration, but he continues to follow the safe, effective, and gradual roadmap he has laid out,” he added.
In Prince George’s County, County Executive Alsobrooks is expected to announce details of the county’s Phase 1 recovery plan on Thursday.