ANNAPOLIS, Md. — On Wednesday afternoon just hours before sweeping new orders to ban all restaurant dining were to take effect in Anne Arundel County, a whirlwind of events occurred.
First, County Executive Steuart Pittman partially reversed course on previously announced plans to halt outdoor dining.
Instead of a complete ban, Pittman said outdoor dining would be allowed as long as no more than 50 percent of tent sides were down.
Following that announcement a judge slapped a temporary restraining order on Pittman, preventing his executive order to ban indoor dining from going into effect.
Circuit Court Judge William C. Mulford, II ruled restaurants can remain open and offer indoor dining at 25 percent capacity.
The judge's order is in effect until another hearing is held on December 28.
Pittman responded to Mulford's decision with disappointment.
"We believe the science from public health experts is clear and it shows that taking actions to limit situations where people gather without masks will prevent the spread of this virus and ultimately save lives," said Pittman. "We look forward to a full hearing on the merits of the case and in the meantime are discussing other options to protect the health of our residents by limiting community spread and flattening the ongoing COVID surge in our county."
Last week Governor Larry Hogan said he also disagreed with the thinking of leaders in some jurisdictions who've decided to completely shutdown restaurants. Hogan said the information they claim to have received from health experts differs from the advice he's been given.
All other Anne Arundel County restrictions that were set to start Wednesday at 5 remain.
Those will last a minimum of 4 weeks.