September 23, 2020

Larger Religious Gatherings and Additional Measures Allowed Under Updated Phase 2 Guidelines

Large gathering with mask

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, after consultation with County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, has issued an updated executive order that clarifies provisions of the Phase 2 Guidelines related to the COVID-19 health crisis. The County Council unanimously approved amended Executive Order 114-20 that went into effect Tuesday, Sept. 22. 

The amended executive order includes additional measures to protect the public from the spread of the virus. One measure modifies the previous executive order to allow for larger religious gatherings. Montgomery County public health and emergency management staff have worked closely with members of the Faith Community Working Group to develop enhanced spacing allowances. They have also worked collaboratively to offset any increased risk of more congregants by including additional safety requirements and guidance for houses of worship.

The amended order also includes a new exception to the face covering mandate for children under the age of 18 while playing sports as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Updated executive order:
  • Explicitly caps indoor food service at 50 percent;
  • Changes gathering size calculations and spacing, screening, and cleaning requirements for religious facilities;
  • Modifies the definition of face covering to remove plastic full face shields;
  • Includes a face covering exception for children under 18 while playing sports; and
  • Officials are continually reviewing designations and adjusting guidance based on data and science.