Peter Wells in New York
Maryland has ordered bars and restaurants to cease late-night in-person dining and tightened capacity limits on indoor gatherings as the state grapples with record daily coronavirus cases and strained hospital resources.
Effective November 20, dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments will be required to close at 10pm, governor Larry Hogan announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
Numerous businesses and activities with indoor operations will be required to limit capacity to 50 per cent. These include retailers, religious institutions, personal services, fitness centres, bowling alleys and skating rinks. Fans will no longer be permitted at professional or collegiate stadiums or racetracks for sporting events.
“We are in a war right now and the virus is winning,” the Republican governor said.
Maryland has reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for 13 days running, including a record 2,321 on Saturday, which Mr Hogan said reflected “widespread community transmission in every corner of the state.”
Hospitalisations in the state due to coronavirus have doubled since the start of this month and are now over 1,000 for the first time since early June. Even with about 6,000 additional beds under the state’s “surge plan”, Mr Hogan said “Maryland hospitals are reaching capacity”, particularly those in the west of the state.
In an effort to address the challenge, hospital visitation in the state will be restricted to compassionate care visits or for parents or guardians visiting a minor. Mr Hogan announced an emergency order would allow hospitals that are at or nearing their capacity limits to transfer patients to other facilities that are able to provide necessary care. “Our highest priority is preserving capacity at our hospitals,” he said.
Similarly at nursing homes, visits will be limited only to those on compassionate care grounds and all visitors must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before the visit.
Maryland’s health department revealed a further 2,149 people had tested positive for coronavirus over the past 24 hours and additional 26 deaths, taking those statewide totals since the start of the pandemic to 169,805 and 4,186, respectively.
“It’s not just the flu. We have lost more Marylanders to Covid 19 than we do each year to car accidents, gun violence and the flu combined,” Mr Hogan said.
Additional reporting by Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington