GAMBRILLS, Md (WMAR) — It’s the latest in the battle over COVID-19 restrictions in Anne Arundel County. Monday, a judge will hear arguments over the indoor and outdoor dining ban.
"We are really just trying to survive to get through til the end of it and still have a building and employees to come back to," said James King.
King, the owner of multiple restaurants in Anne Arundel County, said that might not be possible for many small businesses under the new restrictions: moving restaurants to take out only.
"Unfortunately for full services restaurants, many of us it’s just not... It’s %200-300 a day so the revenue is just not there to support the staff. There’s a lot of waste with perishable products. You are constantly throwing product out and quite frankly, it would really mean closing restaurants," said King.
Earlier this month, County Executive Steuart Pittman shut down indoor and outdoor dining to limit the spread of COVID-19.
"We understand that this is going to be a burden for our residents and none of us wanted to make these decisions," said Pittman during a virtual press conference on Dec. 10.
But four restaurant owners filed an immediate injunction, arguing they were being singled out when other businesses like casinos could remain open.
On the very day the four-week ban was to take effect, a judge granted a temporary injunction, allowing the county to stay at 25 percent indoor dining capacity until the hearing Monday.
King said they want to see the county adapt the statewide 50 percent indoor capacity limit. He believes they have done it safely. His restaurant group Titan Hospitality Group went 8 months without a case.
"We have face masks. We have gloves. We have social distancing. We have ventilation systems that replace the air multiple times per hour," said King.
"These are facilities where people can’t wear masks and where the virus is being spread at higher rates than retail or any other business activities short of social gatherings.," said Pittman.
But King believes the ban will make things worse, pushing more people to gather in homes.
"You are gonna take people out of very safe environments that’s proven to be safe and works, drive them into unsafe environments with no masks, no social distancing, no gloves and you're gonna see hospitalizations go up and you’re gonna see the spread go up," said King.
King and the other restaurateurs started the Maryland Restaurant Coalition, petitioning against the restrictions.
The hearing is taking place Monday at 9 a.m.