ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced the introduction of emergency legislation to extend outdoor dining until November 15, 2021, for restaurants and bars that added or expanded that service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictures from today’s news conference can be found HERE.
During the last few months, I have visited dozens of restaurants where the owners say they are beginning to recover from the losses suffered during the pandemic. By allowing them to continue to offer outdoor seating, we hope they will be able to rebound even more quickly. I am optimistic the County Council will vote to approve the extension by month’s end.
In June 2020, Ball announced a new Temporary Use Permit for Outdoor Table Service that allowed bars and restaurants to create or expand their outdoor seating while indoor dining capacity limits were in place. More than 60 restaurants applied for the permits. The Temporary Use Permit, however, is tied to the County’s State of Emergency which is set to expire at the same time as the State’s emergency order on August 15, 2021.
We got into this business for the love of hospitality, but it isn’t very hospitable to deny patrons outside seating where they would feel more comfortable and safer. We hope that the Council works expeditiously to allow restaurants to continue with outdoor seating through November 15.
“We have suffered. We have borrowed. We have begged to keep the doors open so our employees remain employed,” said Randy Marriner, owner of the Victoria Restaurant Group. “Anything that we can do to extend our season is critical to helping us get back to where we were.”
Ball also announced his administration is working on a process to allow some of the restaurants to make their outdoor seating permanent. More information on that process will be available in the coming weeks.
Just last week, the Howard County Board of License Commissioners voted unanimously to allow restaurants, bars and taverns in the county to continue to sell to-go alcoholic beverages. The policy allows alcoholic beverages, including cocktails and mixed drinks, to be available for carryout or delivery from licensed establishments through at least June 30, 2023.