Judge Upholds Maryland County’s Indoor Dining Ban

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Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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Montgomery County, Maryland, restaurateurs lost a motion in circuit court requesting an injunction against an indoor dining ban on Dec. 23, according to the Bethesda Beat.

Circuit Court Judge James Bonifant denied the injunction in a late-night ruling. Bonifant’s denial was first reported by Bethesda Beat reporter Daniel Schere. The rule was passed by the Montgomery County Council on Dec. 15 in response to rising COVID-19 rates. (RELATED: Maryland’s Montgomery County To Have Students Learn Online—In Person)

Bonifant did announce that he would schedule another hearing about the indoor dining ban after the holidays.

Dr. Earl Stoddard, Montgomery County’s director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, described the ban as “common sense,” according to Bethesda Magazine. Restaurant owners disagreed in their petition for relief, pointing to data that suggests that only “1.5% of [COVID-19] transmissions occur at restaurants and bars.”

The Restaurant Association of Maryland filed simultaneous restraining orders on Dec. 18 against indoor dining bans in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City. Bonifant heard the Restaurant Association’s request for a temporary restraining order in conjunction with one filed by the Clarksburg Tavern.

Circuit Court Judge John Davey ruled that an indoor dining ban could stand in Prince George’s County on Dec. 23. On the other hand, an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge granted a temporary restraining order on Dec. 16, blocking the county from enforcing its indoor dining ban.

In response to the Anne Arundel county ruling, county executive Steuart Pittman said in a press release, “We believe the science from public health experts is clear… We look forward to a full hearing on the merits of this case.”