The Montgomery County Council voted in favor of revisions to an executive order that allows for businesses that offer personal services in the Maryland county, such as tanning salons and tattoo parlors, to reopen as of Wednesday at noon.
The council voted on changes to the order from County Executive Marc Elrich that was issued June 19. Under the order, cigar bars, vape shops and hookah bars can open, but only to offer items for sale. Smoking on site remains prohibited.
Businesses that offer personal services, such as tattoos, massage services, waxing, tanning and cryotherapy, can open as long as they follow a number of protocols. Those include allowing just one customer for every 200 square feet of space, and allowing one customer in a waiting area.
Religious facilities can hold services provided they are limited to one participant (or one household group) for every 200 square feet. Outdoor services would be limited to 150 people, unless a waiver from the Department of Health and Human Services is issued.
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During the council hearing, a number of people, including business owners, testified.
Ahmed Kamel, who owns two hookah bars, including the Vibes hookah lounge in Rockville, told council members his business has a state-of-the-art ventilation system.
Kamel said hookah lounges in other jurisdictions have been able to operate, and said, “We believe we can continue to do our best to stop the spread [of the coronavirus] by enforcing our safety guidelines, and allowing our venues to be occupied at a 50% capacity,” and with outdoor seating.
New rules for restaurants, sports
The amended executive order also says restaurants and bars, which reopened for limited indoor dining in late June, have to stop selling alcohol on-site after 10 p.m.
The order also prohibits the playing of soccer and flag football, calling them “high-risk sports.” The county’s order differs from a classification by the Maryland Sports Commission, which lists both sports as medium-risk.
During the hearing, Matt Libber, executive director of the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, objected to the provision that classified soccer as a “high-risk” activity.
“There is no basis to single out soccer,” said Libber, when other activities, such as lacrosse and field hockey, are classified as medium-risk.
Council member Gabe Albornoz expressed sympathy to Libber’s situation, and said, “We want to have a further dialogue at another time,” regarding a number of the provisions in the executive order.
Also under the order, food courts in malls are reminded they may only serve food for carryout and must remove tables, chairs and benches to discourage people from congregating.
In addition, religious facilities can hold outdoor services with an increased limit to 150 participants.
The council can vote on the revisions, but cannot amend an executive order.
WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report.