As Washington, D.C., and surrounding counties gradually reopen in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Montgomery County hasn’t put an exact date on when restrictions will begin to be lifted.
Montgomery County may enter phase one “early next week,” County Executive Marc Elrich said in an interview Wednesday.
When asked about Montgomery County during a news conference Wednesday, Gov. Larry Hogan said, "I think they ought to move forward."
"I believe Montgomery County now is the only one who has not set a date and they probably need to," Hogan said.
Elrich told News4 later Wednesday night he and other county officials would hold a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce reopening plans.
“We’re going to put out the guidance so businesses know what they have to prepare for,” Elrich said.
Restaurant owner and chef Francesco Ricchi, who runs Cesco Osteria in Bethesda, said he wanted answers.
“We are still in limbo. Everybody’s struggling,” he said.
Ricchi’s restaurant is losing money every day that it’s restricted to only offer carryout and delivery service.
Elrich said he would consider closing some streets so restaurants would have more space for outdoor dining.
The county executive said on May 20 that he expected the county to be ready to reopen within two weeks.
County health officials have said they are looking for sustained trends in the virus data. On Wednesday, the county announced that the average number of daily cases had declined for the past two weeks. Still, Montgomery County, along with Prince George’s County, has more cases than anywhere else in the state.
Most parts of Maryland, with the exception of the counties just outside D.C., entered phase one on May 15. Under phase one, nonessential retail stores may reopen at up to 50% capacity, with curbside pickup and delivery strongly encouraged. Churches and houses of worship may start holding religious services at up to 50% capacity, with outdoor services strongly encouraged. Some personal services, including barbershops and hair salons, may open with up to 50% capacity and by appointment only.
Under phase one, restaurants still can only offer takeout and delivery service.
Hogan announced Wednesday that the state was ready to complete stage one of reopening and effective Friday, May 29 at 5 p.m. restaurants and social organizations can begin to safely reopen for outdoor dining.
Many outdoor activities will also be able to safely resume on Friday, including
youth sports and day camps, outdoor pools and drive-in movie theaters.
Hogan reiterated that it is up to local leaders to determine when they will move on to stage one.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.