COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — The Restaurant Association of Maryland announced Friday it has filed legal action against three jurisdictions in the state with the goal of having indoor and outdoor dining restored.

The group’s President and CEO, Marshall Weston, Jr., announced during a news conference Friday morning it was seeking temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions against Baltimore City as well as Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

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The legal action asks for capacity limits to be set to the same level as those allowed statewide under Gov. Larry Hogan’s latest order.

Weston said the latest restrictions targeting restaurants could lead to thousands more shutting their doors for good.

“Restaurants have continued to operate safely, and there is no evidence linking the spread of COVID to restaurants,” he said. “Relying on the potential for spread is not evidence, and that it is actually not happening. If indeed restaurants were a source of COVID, we would have seen significant increases while restaurants were open at 75% capacity, and that did not happen.”

Shutting down in-person dining and putting employees out of work weeks before the holidays “due to a government mandate” is “grossly unfair,” he added.

Earlier this month, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, on his first full day in office, announced a number of new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of indoor and outdoor dining. Those rules took effect at 5 p.m. on December 11.

On Friday afternoon, Scott said he was just made aware of the legal action, adding the city’s law department and solicitor are reviewing it.

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He defended the stricter order, adding the city plans to stick to the four-week period it outlined last week.

“What we did was guided by public health, science and advice, period,” he said.


Lawyers representing some of the restaurants said they hope those businesses will be able to offer indoor and outdoor dining for Christmas.

The announcement comes days after a judge blocked a ban on indoor dining in Anne Arundel County hours before it was set to take effect. The ban was designed to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

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Watch the full news conference below:

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.