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by Judith Hruz
Montgomery County entered Phase 2 of reopening on June 19 as expected, but loosening restrictions on what businesses and activities can open does not mean loosening restrictions on wearing face coverings and practicing other safety measures.
“We continue to open with restrictions,” County Executive Marc Elrich said during his weekly media briefing just two days before the second phase of recovery began.
He warned that everyone must continue to practice social distancing and other safeguards to prevent having to return to stricter rules and closings if coronavirus cases begin to rise again as they have in some places of the country.
County health officer Dr. Travis Gayles agreed.
“We still need to be vigilant, if not more so,” in adhering to safety practices, he said.
Elrich gave the green light to move into Phase 2 because the data have shown no significant spikes in coronavirus positivity rates and continued low rates in such categories as hospitalizations and deaths.
Gov. Larry Hogan allowed the state to take further steps into reopening a week earlier on June 12, followed by more on June 19.
Elrich did not loosen restrictions until June 19.
Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have lagged behind most of the rest of the state because the two counties have half of the state’s COVID-19 cases, and because they share boundaries with the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia, which has lagged behind the rest of the commonwealth.
Stage 2 in Montgomery County
Montgomery County officials says that Phase 2 allows additional businesses and activities to start and/or increase modified operations under specified guidelines.
Retail — curbside and limited in-store, one patron per 200 square feet of sales space;
Shopping malls – for shopping only; no food courts, gathering or socializing;
Restaurants — outdoor/patio seating and limited indoor dining with requirements;
Child care — Maryland State Department of Education continues expanding the number of essential personnel child care programs;
Farms — open, “pick your own” open with requirements;
Gyms — fitness centers and other indoor physical activities, with requirements, such as one patron per 200 square feet of fitness space;
Hotels —open with requirements;
Houses of Worship – virtual, drive-in, and limited indoor and outdoor services with requirements, such as one congregant/family unit per 200 square feet of service space;
Salons/barbers/personal services — allowed by appointment only, one patron per 200 square feet. of service delivery space;
Car washes — open for internal and external cleaning with requirements;
Pools — indoor and outdoor, with property social distancing, wearing masks (except while in the water), aggressive cleaning and sanitizing.
Outdoor day camps — expanded opening with requirements;
Outdoor youth sports —expanded for low-contact sports with requirements;
Parks and playgrounds — parks open for personal fitness and fitness classes with requirements; playgrounds open with requirements; only low-contact sports allowed; and
Ride On Bus service — expanded schedule; expanded routes.
Certain outdoor recreation activities and facilities are already permitted, such as golf courses, archery, shooting ranges, marinas, campgrounds, horseback riding facilities and tennis courts.
The following businesses and services will remain closed:
Concerts and theaters;
Protective measures such as maintaining physical distancing, careful cleaning and disinfecting, and face coverings being worn by employees and customers, are some of the measures being required of businesses.
For a chart of what the next stages would include in Montgomery County, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov
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