Inspectors canvass Montgomery County before Phase Two of COVID-19 reopening

Heather Detrick speaks with an employee of a hair salon in Montgomery County, Maryland. (Courtesy Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Housing Code Enforcement)

As Montgomery County, Maryland, gets ready for Phase Two of its reopening Friday, some county workers are chipping in to make sure the process is going smoothly.

They’re normally charged with enforcing the county’s housing code, but amid the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve been pressed into service as “ambassadors” to businesses that are opening back up.

“Typically, we do rental inspections,” said Dan McHugh, who manages housing code enforcement in the county. Some of that enforcement work has been put on hold during the pandemic. McHugh called the new role “totally different” than what they’re used to.

Jordan Dye enters a business in Montgomery County, Maryland, with handouts. (Courtesy Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Housing Code Enforcement)

The 19 ambassadors are checking to see whether businesses are following the current guidelines, while also offering resources that may be helpful.

“If there’s questions that we can’t address, we try to get the answers,” McHugh said.

He added that there’s been some confusion about what guidelines to follow, since Montgomery County’s have differed from Maryland’s.

While their role is education rather than enforcement, McHugh said if they follow up with a business and see that it is not complying with guidelines, that business could be referred to the county Department of Health and Human Services for possible enforcement action.

As of Thursday morning, the ambassadors had visited 1,300 businesses in the county.

The initiative began in the hard-hit Silver Spring area last week, McHugh said.

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.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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