Montgomery County Executive Elrich’s Amended Executive Order to Allow More Businesses to Reopen Under Phase 2 Guidelines Unanimously Approved by County Council

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s plan to update his executive order regarding restrictions during the COVID-19 health crisis and allow more types of businesses to reopen was unanimously approved on Aug. 4 by the Montgomery County Council. Amended Executive Order 87-20 includes additional measures to protect the public from the spread of the virus. One measure forbids the sale of alcohol by restaurants after 10 p.m.

The change for the sale of alcohol comes following contact tracing data released by the State that indicates people congregating in establishments later in the evening have higher instances of physical contact and limited social distancing. Baltimore City has taken action by no longer allowing indoor dining and Anne Arundel County does not allow alcohol to be served after 10 p.m.

The full text of updated Executive Order 87-20, which will go into effect at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 5, can be found at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/exec/Resources/Files/orders/087-20.pdf .

The highlights of the updated executive order include:

  • Face coverings section was changed so the text is consistent with the most recent executive order issued by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to require face coverings in outdoor public areas. Montgomery County’s local health officer had previously issued a directive with similar provisions.
  • Businesses allowed to reopen will include those providing services for tanning, tattooing, waxing, threading, electrolysis, cryotherapy, facial and massages. They will be allowed to operate by appointment only.
  • Ice skating rinks will remain closed to the public. However, they may operate as a “fitness center” for the purpose of individual or group training.
  • Clarified guidelines for cigar bars, hookah bars and vape shops to state they “may open solely to sell retail goods. Smoking on site is strictly prohibited.”
  • Food service establishments may not serve alcohol after 10 p.m.
  • Clarified guidelines under which “fitness centers” can operate. Fitness centers include dance studios, health clubs, health spas, gyms, training facilities and other indoor physical activities.
  • Clarified that food courts in malls may only serve food for carryout.
  • Malls must remove tables, chairs and benches to discourage congregating.
  • Religious facilities can hold outdoor services with an increased limit to 150 participants.
  • Clarified guidelines regarding sports activities, categorized by level of risk as detailed in the “Maryland Sports Commission Return to Play Report,” with the following exceptions:
  • Soccer and flag football are considered to be high-risk sports (prohibited in Montgomery County).
  • Solo kayaking/canoeing are considered to be low risk (allowed in Montgomery).
  • Tandem kayaking/canoeing are designated as low risk provided participants are from the same household (allowed in Montgomery).

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Before I am asked….yes this also includes bars…from the Executive Order (link above): “Restaurants, bars, and other similar establishments that sell food or beverages for consumption on-premises in Montgomery County (“Restaurants and Bars”), and (b) social and fraternal clubs (“Social Clubs”) with dining facilities may, to the extent permitted by applicable law”

So this is the third jurisdiction in Maryland to impose restrictions of this type:

I find this very interesting after what was announced by Governor Hogan on July 29th:  COVID-19 contact tracing shows surprising results in Maryland; Bars and restaurants “do not appear to be a main part of the issue”

Scott E

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