Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has announced further safety restrictions in order to slow the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in the County and throughout the Washington region. The restrictions will begin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15.Executive Order 139-20 will restrict restaurant service to outdoor dining. Carry-out, delivery and drive-through service will be allowed to continue. The order also limits indoor sports gatherings to a maximum of 10 people total. (Outdoor dining will be prohibited between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., per an existing Executive Order from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.) The maximum capacity for retail establishments has been changed to one person per 200 square feet of retail space—not to exceed a maximum of 150 persons.
The Executive Order has been sent to the County Council for its review. The Council can approve or disapprove the order but cannot change it.
“We have been experiencing weeks with our daily case counts up dramatically,” said County Executive Elrich. “Our cases per 100,000 are now at 41, and 78 percent of our hospital beds are full. All the data and trends indicate that we are heading toward more difficult times and it is imperative that we take action now. We cannot wait for our hospitals to be overflowing. This was a difficult decision, and I know that it is hard on our businesses. I encourage everyone to support our local businesses. We must take steps to slow the spread of this virus.”
Travis Gayles, the County health officer, said: “We are currently seeing unprecedented numbers of new daily cases of COVID-19 and everybody needs to understand the severity of this matter and the negative impacts it can have. It is imperative that every one of us living in Montgomery County does everything we can to slow the spread of this virus. We are seeing widespread community transmission and we will all need to sacrifice aspects of our lives in order to bring this under control.”
The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montgomery County, as reported today by the Maryland Department of Health, showed an increase of more than 2,000 in the past week. The County has had more than 37,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 956 deaths.
County officials continue to remind residents that wearing a mask is the law in the County and throughout Maryland. This includes outdoors. Wearing a plastic face shield does not satisfy the face covering mandate, nor does wearing a face covering with a valve. Those examples have been shown to be ineffective at protecting the spread of the aerosol droplets that can cause COVID-19.