Counties Considering Post-Emergency Outdoor Dining

Many Maryland counties have used “emergency declarations” (including the State’s) as the grounds to extend limitations on outdoor dining – what happens when the State of Emergency is concluded?

During the still-ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Maryland has adapted to a variety of measures to recognize and accommodate the social distancing needs arising from its spread. Governments at every level have adjusted hearing schedules, license renewals, and other timetables as recognition of these circumstances – in many cases, grounding those decisions on a formal declaration of emergency to trigger their effect.

While many counties have adopted local emergency declarations – either ongoing, or renewed by intervals – others have used the Governor’s statewide declaration (renewed multiple times since last Spring) as their foundation. A conversation among the MACo county administrators’ affiliate highlighted the need for counties to be prepared for changes at the conclusion of the declared emergency.

One such element that may be widespread is relaxed rules for outdoor dining and food service – where conditional allowances in some counties may have been pinned to formal emergency declarations. Counties are advised to consider these elements of local laws and practices in advance of any forthcoming state action.

Coverage in the Capital highlights the ongoing consideration in Anne Arundel County to legislate a new, ongoing basis for outdoor dining (the summary and photo below are via social media, the linked article requires a subscription to fully view):

A substantial coronavirus resource page is hosted on the Restaurant Association of Maryland webpage, detailing outdoor dining and similar accommodations available across Maryland jurisdictions.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties