Montgomery County, Maryland, is not making any substantial changes to its Phase Two guidelines as the rest of the state moves into Phase Three of reopening ahead of the Labor Day weekend.
The county, however, will allow live performances to take place in some circumstances. They’ll be allowed in indoor and outdoor restaurants, but dancing and crowding in front the stage will be prohibited.
The new guidance on live music will go into effect immediately, according to County Executive Marc Elrich.
“Allowing live music with restrictions at restaurants is an example of the cautious steps that we are taking toward reopening, and we will work on appropriate guidance for other live venues beyond what we’re doing for restaurants,” Elrich said in a news release Friday.
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In August, Elrich penned a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, asking for music venues to be able to hold live performances to audiences of 50 or fewer. As Maryland moves into Phase Three, those performances are now possible, but will remain prohibited in Montgomery County for now.
County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said that the county opted not to move into Phase Three because the community transmission rate of COVID-19 is still higher than the health department is comfortable with.
The seven-day average number of cases in Montgomery County is higher now than it was in June, when the county made the decision to enter Phase Two. In June, that case count was at 67 new cases per day, and the current seven-day average is 85.
“I want to emphasize that the reason why we’re doing this is: The activities and the increases in capacity have been tied to activities that have demonstrated concern for higher points of contact that would make transmitting the virus easier,” Gayles said.
“Given where we stand in terms of our community transmission levels, we do not feel comfortable … opening up any more of those provisions at this time,” he added.
Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, and Baltimore City, also opted to delay Phase Three.
Anne Arundel County added on Friday an executive order that prohibits residential utility service for county water or wastewater service from being terminated for nonpayment through Nov. 15, and suspends late fees for the same time period.
Maryland entered Phase Three of its reopening plan on Friday at 5 p.m. Howard, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties all entered Phase Three then.
In a statement Friday evening, after the state had entered Phase Three, Hogan said, “While I hope everyone has the opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends this holiday weekend, I want to remind Marylanders that moving into Stage Three does not mean this crisis is behind us.”
“We cannot afford to let our guard down. We must continue to remain vigilant so we can keep Maryland open for business,” Hogan said.
Find more details about Phase Three on Maryland’s “Roadmap to Recovery” webpage.