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COVID Restriction Battle: New Push To Limit Anne Arundel County Executive's Power; More Businesses File Lawsuit

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Anne Arundel County has been at the center of several recent fights over COVID-related restrictions

Restaurants sued to overturn the indoor dining ban, and the county executive changed course this week and decided to allow diners inside at 25% capacity. It followed a judge's tough questioning.

Now, several sports complexes are suing the county, asking that they be allowed to remain open for organized sports practices, which make up a large amount of their business and are currently prohibited.

Gyms can still remain open for workouts with a mask mandate.


The same judge in the restaurant case is hearing the sports complex lawsuit but has denied issuing a temporary restraining order that would have allowed practices to continue.

"Other counties — Howard County, they're still operating. Baltimore County, they're still operating," said Anne Arundel County Councilman Nathan Volke. "You look at some of our neighboring jurisdictions and you ask why are we continuing to be the outlier."

Councilman Volke will introduce a measure Monday to limit the county executive's emergency powers. It is the third time he has done so.

"Some people have said the third time is the charm. I don't know whether that will be the case or not. But my hope is, the more it becomes publicly apparent that the county executive does not have any basis for what he is doing, the more I think it becomes harder for my colleagues — even those who like him — to stand with him and say, 'Yes. This makes sense. What you're doing is the right thing,'" Volke said.

The county executive has repeatedly told WJZ he is simply making decisions to save lives—while still considering the impact on businesses. He also said he continually looks at the data to evaluate his restrictions.

"I think it's very clear that the governor has authorized county leaders to make decisions. They've been making them all across the state...and we have the authority to do this," Pittman said this week.

Since the pandemic began, the county has seen 24,815 cases and 345 deaths.

"Not being able to get into a hospital when you need to is just something that I'm not willing to accept. I have to do everything I can," Pittman said.

Still, during the restaurant lawsuit hearing this week, Judge William Mulford noted the number of projected hospitalizations was off by 5,000 patients from the actual number of hospitalizations.

"I can't get my head around how I just ignore the fact most of the assumptions made were wrong," Judge Mulford told the county's attorney. "It was based upon faulty data and assumptions that did not play out in reality."

Councilman Volke believes there needs to be a check on power.

"The more we are in this pandemic and the more the county executive is leading, the more we're all realizing the emperor has no clothes," Volke said.

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.

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