Anne Arundel County OKs some outdoor dining after previous restriction

Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is allowing some outdoor dining after announcing last week that it would be entirely prohibited starting Wednesday.

County Executive Steuart Pittman said the decision to change the restrictions came after several discussions with businesses, stakeholders and health officials since the announcement last week.

Originally, restaurants would be limited to offering takeout, delivery or curbside pickup, only during the four-week period when the increased restrictions would be enforced.

Under the modified executive order, restaurants can offer outdoor dining provided that no more than 50% of tent sides are down. Indoor dining would still be prohibited under the order.

On Tuesday, four restaurant owners in Maryland asked a circuit court judge to block the county’s ban on indoor dining, saying Pittman did not have the authority to close restaurants.

“Politicians are picking and choosing and destroying people’s livelihoods,” said Anthony Piera, whose family runs Mike’s Bar and Crab House in Riva. “It’s just terrible.”

The judge supported the owners’ filing and granted an extension on indoor dining for 12 days, meaning restaurants can continue to serve food indoors at 25% capacity and outdoors at 50% capacity until Dec. 28, The Capital Gazette reports.

Before the judge issued a temporary injunction on the indoor dining ban, Piera told WTOP he was prepared to furlough half of his workforce when the restriction was supposed to take effect.

Piera said his business was up 15% until the pandemic hit, and has since dropped below 40%.

And while outdoor dining can continue through December, Piera was not pleased with the modified executive order that set limits on outdoor dining.

“You could seat outside, but you have to have two sides open on the tent? It’s snowing,”  Piera said.

Jim Hamrock, who runs Allison’s Restaurant in Crofton, offered a different take. He believes establishments which were playing by the rules, including his, are paying the price for those who haven’t.

Hamrock also said it’s possible to keep restaurants open, despite the health guidelines.

“When my wife and I go to [the] store, we wear masks,” Hammock said. “When we go to other businesses, we wear masks. It seems like everybody’s doing that and things are OK if everyone does that.”

An additional hearing is scheduled for Dec. 28 to further consider the restrictions.

County Executive Pittman said he was “disappointed” in the judge’s ruling.

The executive order went into effect 5 p.m. Wednesday and is scheduled to last until Jan. 14 at 8 a.m.

Read the fully updated executive order here with the added restrictions.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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