Maryland restaurant association calls for looser restrictions

The Restaurant Association of Maryland says the governor’s recent order to expand indoor dining capacity to 75% doesn’t do enough.

The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that struggling restaurants are still unable to pack their dining rooms because of distancing regulations.

Marshall Weston, the association’s president, wants the Maryland Department of Health to allow restaurants to install physical barriers between tables and booths. The barriers would allow restaurants to skirt the mandate requiring six-feet of distance between parties, Weston said.

RELATED: Maryland restaurants say increasing capacity isn’t that simple due to social distancing requirements

Currently, every other indoor booth cannot be used. The state health department currently allows for plexiglass or other barriers in outdoor booth seating, but not indoors. Fall is also approaching.

“With these current table restrictions, many restaurants have found that they can’t even meet a 50% capacity of what they’re allowed to hold,” Weston said.

READ MORE: Gov. Larry Hogan expands capacity for indoor dining; marks start of first Maryland Restaurant Week

The association also is pushing for the state to boost the current maximum of six people per table to 10.

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Maryland Department of Health spokesperson Charlie Gischlar said it has no plans to increase the table maximum. But he said that the department “will evaluate whether additional operational changes are warranted as we move forward and the state’s health metrics continue to improve.”