ST. MICHAELS — More businesses, events and tourists are emerging across the Eastern Shore as Maryland’s coronavirus situation has shown improvements and coronavirus-weary locals and visitors yearn to get outside after months of being sequestered at home.
Some businesses on the Mid-Shore are getting ready for Halloween on Saturday, Oct. 31, and the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.
The Old Brick Inn in St. Michaels, for example, is hosting special events for guests over the Halloween weekend — with additional ones in the works.
The inn is offering special perks for guests who book the Halloween package Oct. 30 and 31. That includes a ghost tour, pumpkin carving contest and costume party. The events will include social distancing protocols and comes after the inn previously hosted a socially distant wine tasting event.
“We are finding that everyone wants to be involved in social activities and we are having to turn away people when we reach capacity. People want to know we take safety precautions, which we take very seriously,” said George Wilson, owner of the Old Brick Inn.
Wilson said it is important to build confidence among consumers and visitors when it comes to health safety and the coronavirus.
“The best indicator of guest experience is found in the reviews given both online at TripAdvisor and Google as well as in guest response cards located at the Inn,” he said. “We have received only rave reviews about safety and the steps we take to insure guest safety. While we cannot control the situation outside of our location, we are doing all possible to control each aspect of the guest experience in order to maximize guest confidence and safety. So far, guests have been very appreciative and understand the challenges we all face. People are excited to be getting out again, and The Old Brick Inn has been fortunate enough to be sold out each weekend for the past couple of months and even through much of the fall.”
The inn is following U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines for COVID-19. It has instituted a number of policies for guests and staff. That includes an online and touch-free check-in processes, allowing only one person in the main office at a time, requiring masks while on the hotel property, open-air breakfast under a tent and closing the property on Monday’s for a professional, deep cleaning.
The inn was closed from mid-March to mid-May and with the cancellation of major events in St. Michaels has further hurt business. The inn hosted wine event earlier this month which was attended by 48 guests. The bed and breakfast is planning holiday inspired weekend deals and programming in December and at least one special weekend in February and March.
“Safety is key in the process of getting back to business — both for the inn and for the guests,” Wilson said.
There are also outdoor events coming to Easton. The Avalon Foundation is opening a new outdoor music venue on a parking lot next to the Talbot Town Shopping Center on Washington Street. Al Bond, CEO of the Avalon Foundation, said the special outdoor tent will bring back live music events to Easton helping local businesses as well as musicians.
Waterfowl Chesapeake and nine other local nonprofits will also be hosting art, nature and photography exhibits as well as events for kids and families a first ever Easton CommUNITY day on Nov. 14 and Nov. 15. Many of those events will be outdoors. The aim is offer a fall event to the community to attend and to help the participating nonprofits and local business, said Margaret Enloe, executive director of Waterfowl Chesapeake. The group puts on the big Waterfowl Festival in Easton, which was cancelled this year because of the coronavirus.