Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan directed local governments on Tuesday to enforce public health requirements for businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, specifically bars and restaurants across the state.
Now Montgomery County plans to step up the enforcement.
County Executive Marc Elrich said at a news briefing Wednesday that though the county has already closed a handful of businesses that broke requirements, such as wearing masks and failing to physically distance, enforcement will continue as the county fights the virus’ spread.
Elrich said that through the first several months of reopening, the county was lenient with businesses as they adjusted to these new rules.
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“We are going out with our ambassadors, and they are inspecting business sites and giving them guidance. We know this is new for everybody. And we figure everybody gets a one-time, these are things you need to fix and we’ll be back and we want to see them fixed. But we have closed businesses down and other businesses have decided to comply,” he said.
The county is urging businesses to step up their own efforts in enforcement.
“Owners do have the fortitude to tell somebody who is breaking the law in the gym to get out. They have the authority to do (so). They don’t have to serve people who violate the law,” Elrich said.
One area that has not seen as much enforcement is construction sites. Elrich said the county will begin visiting construction sites that are not obeying mask policies.
“We are going to go to construction sites where we continue to see workers not working with masks,” Elrich said.
The county will first issue a warning, then begin closing construction sites that do not comply.
“These folks, if they are exposed to (the) coronavirus, they are bringing it back to their community. They often live in the more crowded housing in the county. So, anything that comes back into those communities is more likely to have community transmission,” Elrich said.
In another measure to contain spreading the virus, the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday introduced a resolution to increase COVID-19 testing and create a countywide strategy for free, no-appointment, no-referral, walk-up testing.
The county also launched a flash survey on wearing masks Wednesday morning. The survey will be closed Thursday morning.