A group that represents restaurants across Maryland is asking local judges to block indoor dining bans recently imposed in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and Baltimore City.
“All with the goal of having indoor and outdoor dining restored as soon as possible,” said Restaurant Association of Maryland President and CEO Marshall Weston during a press conference Friday announcing the court filings.
RAM said the restaurant and food industry in Maryland has lost $1.4 billion since the COVID-19 pandemic started, with establishments having to lay off or furlough 150,000 workers.
Joined by other restaurant owners and workers, Weston is challenging the data that local leaders are using to justify stringent COVID-19 restrictions.
“If indeed restaurants were a source of COVID, we would’ve seen significant increases while restaurants were open at 75% capacity, yet that did not happen,” Weston said.
Ashish Alfred, who runs Duck Duck Goose in Bethesda, Maryland, told WTOP after the press conference that he wants to hear more of the reasoning behind the bans that impact his workers.
“If you’re going to make this many people potentially homeless and food insecure, I think that it’s on you to come up with answers as to why that is,” Alfred said.
Alfred believes people who run businesses like his are unfairly targeted.
“We’re in the business of being clean,” Alfred said. “We’re in the business of being sanitary. I challenge you to ask that same question of a big box store or a shopping mall.”
County and city leaders have argued that the rise in COVID-19 cases is leading them to impose tighter restrictions to control the spread of the coronavirus.
These latest challenges follow a judge’s ruling that suspended Anne Arundel County’s indoor dining ban until a Dec. 28 hearing.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Ashish Alfred.
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