Montgomery County Council plans on requiring proof of vaccination at its meetings

For the first time in two years, the Montgomery County Council’s Tuesday meetings will be open to the public starting March 15.

But there will be some changes to the way the public can access the meetings at the county council building in Rockville, Maryland. For one, Council President Gabe Albornoz said there will be some restrictions before entering chambers. And, the public will have to show proof of vaccination, Albornoz said.

Albornoz announced the changes Tuesday at the start of the council session, but did not give details on how the decision was made. He said formal announcements will be made shortly with more details.

Before heading to the council’s town hall on mental health Tuesday, Albornoz told WTOP that the council decided on the requirement because vaccination “still stands as a general recommendation of our public health team.”

Asked if he worried that the optics could be a problem: a public government body putting restrictions on entry to a public meeting, Albornoz said, “I think the optics are not negative; I think they are positive. We want to encourage county residents to have their vaccinations, and fortunately, over 90% of county residents are vaccinated,” adding, “We think it’s a reasonable policy.”

On whether the council has gotten any feedback, Albornoz said no but said some people have objected.

Members of the public who want to testify could also do it two ways: They could testify online via Zoom, as they have been doing; or they could testify in person.

“This will be permanent moving forward, so that people will have multiple options in order to be able to testify before the council,” Albornoz said.

Over the past two years, said Albornoz, a record number of people have testified at the county council meetings.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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