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No open-air dining for you! (TaylorGourmet.com)

CORRECTION, 4:10 p.m. – This blog post originally stated that having open widows without screens is illegal in Maryland. In fact, Maryland prohibits restaurants from opening their windows without screens.

Don’t you love it when county officials discover outdated laws and decide they have to be enforced anyway? Up in Bethesda, TBD reports this morning, restaurants recently learned that having open windows without screens is actually illegal in Maryland as an anti-vermin measure, punishable by a $1,000 per day fine or 90 days in jail. Not knowing about the law, some restaurants—like Taylor Gourmet—built in fully openable walls facing the street, which make Bethesda’s town center such a pleasure to walk around when summer heat subsides in the evenings. Now, lacking screens, they’ll have to shut their customers in and pedestrians out.

Few things more anti-urbanist than that.

I don’t have to make the case against the law; it appears that local officials are already working to change it. But this is one of those cases where it actually feels lucky to be in D.C.—we have to deal with onerous federal mandates, sure, but changing “state” laws can be done with relative ease at the Wilson Building. In the mean time, Bethesdans, feel free to patronize our many open-air dining establishments across the border.