‘An important first step’: Montgomery Co. to enter Phase 1 of reopening June 1

People gather in Gaithersburg, Maryland, to hear Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announce easing COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday, May 28, 2020. (WTOP/Matt Mills)

Montgomery County, Maryland, will enter Phase One of its reopening plan on June 1, County Executive Marc Elrich announced Thursday.

“This is an important first step,” Elrich said in a statement released later Thursday. “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.”


REOPENING PLANS AROUND THE REGION:


At 6 a.m. on Monday, June 1, entering Phase One means the following businesses and services can resume in the county:

  • Retail is by curbside pickup only.
  • Restaurants and bars with outdoor seating may reopen; curbside pickup can continue.
  • State-approved child care facilities may care for children of essential workers and Phase One personnel.
  • Barbershops and hair salons may open by appointment only.
  • Car washes may reopen for exterior cleaning only.
  • Manufacturing can fully reopen with guidance from the county and safety precautions.
  • Outdoor day camps and youth sports must follow Maryland Department of Health guidelines.
  • Certain outdoor recreation, such as golfing, shooting ranges and tennis courts, can continue.

These businesses and services, however, will remain closed:

  • Swimming pools (but licensing and inspection can be requested and conducted)
  • Senior centers
  • Fitness centers
  • Movie theaters
  • Shopping malls
  • Nail salons

Elrich said that the county recognized that many restaurants were not currently set up for outdoor dining, and that efforts were underway to close some streets in downtown areas to allow more restaurants space to serve outdoors.

County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said that though COVID-19 metrics are trending in a positive direction, residents still need to continue efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

“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,” Gayles said.

Elrich and other Montgomery County officials faced vocal pushback during the briefing Thursday. Several protesters attended and began to boo Elrich as soon as he took the stage. And some others shouted “dictator” and “fascist” at him during his speech.


More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C. 


Much of Maryland began Phase One reopening May 15, but several counties around D.C., including Montgomery and Prince George’s, opted to keep lockdown orders so they could curb important infection metrics.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced this week that the state was ready to complete Phase One of the state’s reopening plan, beginning Friday at 5 p.m.

The governor’s reopening plan allows for localities to remain locked down if they do not feel they meet the conditions for moving forward. At the time Hogan began Phase One, Prince George’s and Montgomery had the first and second highest rates of COVID-19 in the state, respectively.

On Wednesday, Elrich said during a news conference that when Hogan announced his plans to reopen the state earlier this month, he did not make it clear enough that several counties were not ready to reopen and caused a lot of animosity between residents and county governments that opted not to begin Phase One with the rest of Maryland.

“If he had just simply said, ‘I’m opening up the rest of the state because the conditions there warrant it, but I’m not doing these counties because the conditions are different,’ I would have been really happy,” Elrich said. ” … I felt he could have said it in a context that would have had people understand that the governor understood why we weren’t opening as opposed to us getting bombarded with questions such as ‘the governor reopened the state; why aren’t you doing it?'”

Without mentioning any names, Hogan said he did not want to criticize county leaders in his briefing Wednesday.

“I know they all have very difficult jobs,” Hogan said. He also noted that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have higher coronavirus numbers than the rest of the state.

Though he didn’t name mention Elrich by name, Hogan had said he was “hopeful” that “the county executive there will listen to all the best advice, follow the numbers and make the decisions that are right for his county. I don’t know that he is aware of the latest information.”

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.

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