Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles today announced that the County has achieved critical benchmarks to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and that Phase 1 of the gradual reopening plan will start this Monday, June 1 at 6 a.m. The County plans for an incremental reopening, based on public health data.
“This is an important first step,” said County Executive Elrich. “But it is the first step, and restrictions are still in place. I know we are all eager to resume our activities, but based on careful discussions with our County Health Officer Dr. Gayles, we have identified certain restrictions that can be lifted.”
Phase I allows additional businesses and activities to start and/or increase modified operations under specified guidelines. They are:
- Retail; curbside only
- Restaurants and bars; outdoor seating (curbside pick-up still allowed)
- Childcare; State-approved emergency programs open for dependents of essential employees and Phase 1 reopening employees
- Personal Services; hair salons and barbershops for hair only appointments
- Car washes; exterior cleaning only
- Manufacturing; fully reopen with precautions and guidance
- Outdoor Day Camps: following Maryland Department of Health guidelines
- Outdoor Youth Sports; following Maryland Department of Health guidelines
Certain outdoor recreation continues to be permitted; golf courses, archery, shooting ranges, marinas, campgrounds, horseback riding facilities, and tennis courts.
The following businesses and services remain closed:
- Swimming pools; (however, licensing and inspection can be requested and conducted)
- Senior Centers
- Fitness Centers
- Movie Theaters
- Shopping Malls
- Nail Salons
Protective measures such as maintaining physical distancing, careful cleaning and disinfecting by staff, and face coverings being worn by employees and customers, are just some of the measures being required of businesses that are in this initial phase of recovery.
According to a County press release:
“I urge you to follow the guidelines so that we can keep moving forward and not have spikes in the number of cases. This first phase can be successful if all of us do our part and follow the guidelines,” County Executive Elrich said.
This initial phase of reopening was based on metrics the County established with progress overall in decreasing daily numbers of new cases, increasing testing capacity, implementing a large-scale contact tracing effort with the State, decreasing hospitalizations and use of the emergency room by patients with COVID-19 related symptoms, and positive trends in the death rate and test positivity.
“While we are trending in the right direction, clearly the virus is still here in the community so we must remain focused on maintaining our habits of physical distancing, and wearing a face covering when out in public,” said Dr. Gayles.
The County’s data dashboard has shown the number of cases is decreasing at the same time that testing has increased. According to the Maryland Department of Health, the positivity rate has decreased by more than 50 percent from 32.64 percent on April 7 to 15.84 percent on May 27.
With enhanced testing capabilities, more than 8,000 residents are now being tested weekly and by June 8, there should be capacity to test 20,000 people weekly. Contact tracing is done within 48 hours for every resident with a confirmed case so that individuals can isolate themselves and stop further spread of the virus. While moving to the first phase of recovery, County officials urge residents to continue to:
- Wear face coverings always in public indoor spaces and when physical distancing cannot be maintained outdoors
- Continue physical distancing
- Limit indoor and outdoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer
- Telework whenever possible
Read the full press release for more information.