November 11, 2020

Montgomery County Revises Capacity Limits for Businesses Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, after consultation with County Health Officer Travis Gayles and based on data, has issued Executive Order 122-20 that reduced capacity limits for businesses, including restaurants and retail establishments. Among the changes in the order are those preventing gatherings from having more than 25 people and limiting certain businesses to 25 percent of capacity. The order was put in place after the number of new COVID-19 cases continued to increase in the County. 

The provisions of the order went into effect on Nov. 10, after the County Council approved the order.

“We have been watching the daily number of new cases go up for more than two weeks and it’s unfortunately time to roll back some of our reopening steps in order to decrease the spike we are seeing,” said County Executive Elrich. “Like you, I am experiencing ‘COVID fatigue’ and want things to go back to normal, but we have to stay at this in order to protect the health of our community.”
  • The provisions of the new executive order include:
  • Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited at locations including parties, receptions, parades, festivals and fundraisers. Large events that are planned must be cancelled or postponed.
  • Capacity is reduced to a maximum of 25 percent for:
    • Fitness centers.
    • Food service establishments (indoors).
    • Museums and art galleries.
    • Retail establishments.
    • Religious facilities.
  • Capacity is reduced to 25 percent or 25 people—whichever is lower—for bowling venues and for personal services establishments (including hair salons, barbershops, massage and nail salons).
  • Childcare programs must continue to operate at Phase 2 levels currently in effect for providers in Montgomery County.
  • Outdoor playgrounds are exempt from hourly cleaning requirements, as defined in the general operating requirements.
  • Escape room businesses may reopen at a capacity limit of six people.
Restaurants are now required to maintain a record of all indoor and outdoor patrons for at least 30 days. That will assist with contact tracing. Information collected must include date, time, name of each patron and contact information.

The County’s late-night alcohol program was suspended on Friday, Nov. 6. The program allowed qualifying food establishments to serve alcohol between 10 p.m. and midnight after a prior executive order prohibited serving alcohol after 10 p.m. When the late-night alcohol program began, provisions stipulated that it would automatically be suspended if the three-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county exceeded 100 or if the three-day test positivity average exceeded 3.25 percent. The latest three-day average for new confirmed cases is 183 and test positivity is 4.4 percent.