Officials in Montgomery County say they won’t follow Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in lifting all coronavirus-related restrictions Saturday — but they say they are on pace to resume normal operations at all businesses across the state before the end of the month.
A joint statement from Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and the county council said Maryland’s most populous county would continue to follow its “phased approach” for reopening, which is tied to the county’s COVID-19 vaccination rate.
The county is on track to have 50% of its residents with completed vaccinations by May 15. Since people aren’t considered fully protected until two weeks after their final dose, “This means that by May 29, Montgomery County should resume normal operations across all indoor and outdoor businesses, restaurants, theatres, arts and entertainment venues and sports facilities,” the county’s statement said.
Currently, 49% of residents have received their final dose, according to CDC data, which includes county residents who received their shots outside of Maryland.
Hogan announced Wednesday all statewide restrictions on indoor and outdoor businesses would be lifted by Saturday. The governor said an order requiring people to wear masks indoors would remain in place until at least 70% of adults in Maryland had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
As it stands now, more than 65% of the state’s adult residents have received at least one shot.
Regarding masks, Montgomery County officials said, “We currently follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on face covering requirements and are consistently working with our public health experts to determine what changes may be appropriate as vaccinations continue to increase.”
Montgomery County has moved more slowly than neighboring counties in relaxing pandemic-related restrictions, which it says has contributed to the county’s low rate of cases and community transmission.
As of Thursday, the county’s positivity rate was 1.57 and its case rate was less than 4 per 100,000 residents — among the lowest rates in the nation for similarly-sized jurisdictions, the county said.
Following Hogan’s announcement Wednesday, most other Maryland counties in the D.C. area said they planned to align with Hogan’s timeline for lifting restrictions, including Anne Arundel, Charles, Howard and Frederick counties.
In Prince George’s County, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said capacity restrictions on businesses would be lifted on May 17 at 5 p.m.
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