New mask rules, restrictions on gatherings in Montgomery Co. after COVID-19 spike

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Several readers have said that Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles’ order is ambiguous on whether masks must be worn at all times outdoors, or only when outdoors and coming into contact with people not in one’s household.

Barry Hudson, a spokesman for Gayles’ office, told WTOP that a clarification is forthcoming, but said, “If you’re leaving your home and you’re going to be in contact with people who are not your family members, you should always think to have your mask on. And if you’re going someplace where you don’t think you’re going to be coming in contact, you should always carry a mask, just in case.”)

Just ahead of Thanksgiving, the health officer in Montgomery County, Maryland, is putting in place new coronavirus safety restrictions, including a reduced cap on the size of gatherings.

Dr. Travis Gayles said in a statement that indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited effective 5 p.m. Tuesday. Masks are required outdoors at all times, and inside all public facilities.

The move comes as a host of area localities are putting in new restrictions in response to a leap in COVID-19 cases, and family gatherings are a big driver of that increase, Gayles said in a statement.

“Contact tracing data indicates that family and group gatherings are where a significant number of the state’s cases are occurring,” Gayles said.

“It is extremely important that each of us thinks about our collective responsibility to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. The case counts are continuing to rise at an alarming rate, and we need to take more drastic steps to reduce transmission.”

Cases of the virus in Montgomery County have gone up by more than 2,000 in the past week, the statement said.

The directive also says that masks with valves, and face shields without masks, do not count as proper face coverings.

Businesses that are allowed to open still have a limit of 25 people, and the cap on outdoor gatherings remains at 25.

You can read Gayles’ full directive on the Montgomery County’s website.

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.

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