EASTON — Two food stands at the Amish Country Farmers Market in Easton that were shut down by the county government for violating COVID-19 masks orders will reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
“We’re going to reopen,” said Eli Stoltzfus, who operates the Country Cheese and Salads stand at the Amish market on Marlboro Avenue.
The cheese, deli and dessert stand was ordered to shut down temporarily by the Talbot County Health Department on Thursday, Nov. 19, for violating state mask orders related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Stoltzfus said the alleged violations stemmed from two employees who were in the back of his business on a food break. He operates the stand with his wife Rachel and their daughters.
Another business at the popular market — Ruthie’s Soft Pretzels — was also ordered to close on Thursday for COVID mask violations.
Stoltzfus said that stand would also be reopening on Tuesday morning.
Operators at the pretzel stand could not be reached for comment on their temporary closure and reopening, though signs at the stand also indicated a Nov. 24 reopening.
The Amish market is open on Tuesday and Wednesday in the lead-up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Other businesses at the marketplace were not closed and remained open over the busy weekend before Thanksgiving.
Stoltzfus said the closure cost his business significant sales revenue during the busy lead-up to Thanksgiving. “It’s thousands,” he told The Star Democrat.
The businesses went through an inspection by the Talbot County Health Department on Monday, Nov. 23.
Stoltzfus said the inspector was much more positive and conciliatory on Monday as compared to Thursday when his business was closed.
“Something changed,” he said.
Talbot County Health Office Dr. Fredia Wadley did not respond to requests for comment from The Star Democrat on the food stands’ temporary closures and reopening.
Stoltzfus said his business was temporarily shut down once before for mask violations during the pandemic and on Saturday told The Star Democrat he felt targeted by the county.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has been pressing more enforcement of COVID-19 mask and social distancing orders.
On Monday, Nov. 23, Hogan announced Maryland State Police will be deployed “to every single county” to help enforce the COVID mandates in response to rising cases and hospitalizations.
The governor also encouraged Marylanders to call a state police hotline to report neighbors and businesses who are disobeying coronavirus orders and rules.
“Marylanders who see unlawful behavior are encouraged to report it,” Hogan said during a press briefing on Monday in Annapolis.