Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is issuing an executive order restricting indoor activities in the county due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks.
"Gathering size will be limited to 25 people," Elrich said. "Capacity will be reduced to 25 percent for the following types of establishments: fitness centers, food service establishments, museums and art galleries, retail establishments and religious facilities."
The new executive order would still need to be approved by the Montgomery County Council. They're expected to vote in favor of the restrictions at a meeting Thursday.
Under the order, restaurants would now be required to collect information from customers for contact tracing. Bars and restaurants would have permits suspended that, since September, had allowed them to extend alcohol service from 10 p.m. until midnight.
"We will be suspending the late-night alcohol sales program effective Friday at 5 p.m.," said Earl Stoddard, director of Montgomery County Emergency Management & Homeland Security.
Since Phase 2 of reopening began in June, St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church in Bethesda has been limiting attendance at masses to about 30 people and following safety protocols.
"Where we will run into problems will certainly be the issue of gatherings for funerals, for instance, where that capacity is greatly reduced," said Fr. Mark Knestout of St. Bartholomew's.
County officials say no one is happy about imposing the new restrictions, but they believe they are necessary.
"That will hopefully prevent us from having to take further steps to curb the pandemic, as well as hopefully arrest the number of new cases and get us back in a downward trend," said Dr. Travis Gayles, director of Montgomery County Health and Human Services.