Montgomery Co. to host public hearing on reopening guidelines based on vaccination percentage

Montgomery County, Maryland, could expand its reopening as more people get vaccinated.

The Montgomery County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, will hold a public hearing and vote Tuesday on regulation amendments that would add guidance for reopening the county based on the percentage of the population that has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Currently, 49% of the county’s population has received at least one dose.

The three phases of reopening would automatically be triggered when the Montgomery County Health Officer reports the vaccination progress to the Board of Health, according to a news release.

The reopening phases would still require the continued use of face masks and social distancing.

When 50% of the population has received at least one dose, the proposed guidelines include:

  • Gathering limits increasing to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Businesses limited to 25% capacity would move to 50% capacity if they do not sell or permit the consumption of food or drink.
  • Camps would move to gathering limits of 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
  • Escape rooms would be allowed 10 people per game.
  • Museums and galleries could reopen touch exhibits.
  • Malls could reopen pedestrian concourses and return tables and chairs inside.
  • Sports could move to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors with a similar number of spectators.

At 60% of the population receiving at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine:

  • Gathering limits would increase to 250 people indoors and no limit outdoors.
  • Most businesses could move to 75% capacity and may sell food and drink for consumption while seated.
  • Camps would increase to gathering limits of 250 people indoors with no capacity limit outdoors and may permit campers from outside D.C., Maryland or Virginia.
  • Convention and banquet facilities would be limited to 50% of the facility’s maximum capacity per Maryland restrictions.
  • Cigar and hookah bars could permit smoking outdoors.
  • Food service establishments could move to 75% of maximum capacity.
  • Religious facilities could move to 75% of maximum capacity.
  • Sports could increase capacity for participants and spectators to 250 people indoors and no limit outdoors.

Under the proposal, at 50% of the population fully vaccinated, all conduct and business in Montgomery County would follow any state or Maryland Department of Health requirements in place at the time.

If Dr. Travis Gayles, Montgomery County’s health officer, finds that after reviewing community transmission data that continued reopening phases would be contrary to public health, the health officer must report those concerns to the Board of Health, and the continuation to the next phase would be suspended pending a hearing before the Board of Health.

The deadline to sign up for the public hearing is Monday at 5 p.m. Find information on how to sign up to testify on the Montgomery County 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.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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