Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has lifted most COVID-19 restrictions in the state, but Montgomery County is taking a much slower approach with its reopening plan.
The Montgomery County Board of Health says the governor blindsided them with the surprise announcement Tuesday.
The county council voted to reopen more slowly.
“What Gov. Hogan did this week was irresponsible, it was reckless. It endangered people’s lives, and I dare say it was politically motivated,” Council member Will Jawando said.
Montgomery County’s new plan removes restrictions on childcare facilities and allows up to 50 people to gather outdoors and 25 indoors. It removes restrictions on alcohol in restaurants, allows buffets and does not require outdoor structures for dining. Food courts in malls also can open. Capacity at religious services can be 50%.
On March 26, the county will permit arts and entertainment facilities to open at 25% capacity. Stores, restaurants and fitness centers will be allowed 50% capacity indoors.
“We were understanding there was a path to reopening, and this gives us the tools to continue on that path in a measured and careful way and put the health and safety of our residents first. I want to thank the council for making a good decision,” County Executive Marc Elrich said.
The Montgomery County Council is making an exception for youth sports. They can apply for a waiver to exceed the limit of 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors as long as they get a letter of approval from the county.