Indoor dining is banned in some parts of Maryland, but some restaurant owners are pushing back against those COVID-19 restrictions.
With many restaurants facing financial ruin, the Restaurant Association of Maryland is mounting a legal fight to bring indoor dining back to Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
Restaurant owners in those counties are hoping to follow the lead of their Anne Arundel County counterparts, who got a judge to temporarily block a ban on indoor dining.
"Rather than having gatherings and parties in our homes, restaurants provide safe and well-regulated space to meet and gather with friends safely," Restaurant Association of Maryland President CEO Marshall Weston said.
Even at 50% capacity, indoor dining was helping some restaurants hang on.
Ashish Alfred, owner of Duck Duck Goose in Bethesda, says that without it and barring any help from Congress, things will get worse.
"We are scared; we are confused; we are 70,000 people who without due cause have been left jobless and incomeless a few days before Christmas," Alfred said.
For Lynn Martin, owner of Seibel's Restaurant and UpTown Pub in Burtonsville, it's already too late.
"Today I told my employees to file for unemployment," Martin said.
The harsh economic reality has soured the holiday mood in parts of Maryland, and the usually festive period has been filled with COVID-19 fatigue.
Even Gov. Larry Hogan is feeling it.
"I'm getting fatigued with your stupid comments every day," he admitted, writing in response to a Facebook comment complaining of Hogan fatigue.
On Wednesday, Hogan announced new restrictions on out-of-state travel and issued a health advisory limiting gatherings to 10 people.
"You are safer at home for the holidays this year," Hogan said. "Making difficult sacrifices during these next few weeks will absolutely help to keep your family, loved ones and your fellow Marylanders safe. It will help our hospitals keep up with the demand, and it will save lives."
But as 2020 draws to a close, many families and small business owners find themselves with nothing left to sacrifice.
"For first time in 35 years, I can't tell my employees that everything will be OK," Martin said. "It's emotional, an emotional time."
In Anne Arundel County, a judge allowed indoor dining to continue at least until the next hearing Dec. 28.
Attorneys for the Restaurant Association of Maryland hope to get a similar ruling in the next few days.