On Monday, May 17, Dr. Travis Gayles notified Montgomery County Council that 60 percent of residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which automatically started phase two of reopening. In Phase 2, businesses, restaurants and houses of worship could immediately return to 75-percent capacity. This new phase of reopening also eliminated all outdoor capacity limits. Indoor capacity limits increased to 250 people including camps and sports venues. Convention and banquet facilities can also operate at 50 percent capacity.
But wait, there’s more ...
On Friday, May 14, Dr. Gayles also certified that 50 percent of Montgomery County residents have received all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is a major milestone because it triggers full reopening in line with the State of Maryland and will lift all capacity and distancing restrictions for indoor and outdoor businesses and venues in Montgomery County on May 28 at 6 a.m.
"We are grateful to all our residents who have stepped up to get vaccinated," said Council President Tom Hucker. "We are thrilled to be able to restore a sense of normality for our business owners and residents who have made tremendous sacrifices for more than 14 months to protect public health. We … want to encourage everyone who hasn't been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible."
"Thanks to the sacrifices of our residents, and guidance from our public health officials, we are closer than we have been since the start of the pandemic to getting back to normal,” said Council Vice President and Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee Gabe Albornoz.
Today the Council approved a new Board of Health regulation that incorporates the changes that automatically happened yesterday when the County reached the second phase of reopening. The regulation also lifts the outdoor mask mandate and persons who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks indoors, except as provided by the Maryland Department of Health which currently includes mask requirements in healthcare settings, schools and on public transportation.
In addition, the public health guidance requires that unvaccinated residents wear a mask in indoor public spaces until May 28 when the order will be rescinded.
Montgomery County's phased approach to reopening driven by public health data and guidance has resulted in a low rate of transmission of COVID-19 and has saved countless lives. The seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents is less than four and this number continues to decline as vaccinations increase. Moreover, the County continues to have a low, 14-day COVID-19 test positivity rate of 1.6 percent. These rates are the fourth lowest in the nation for jurisdictions larger than 800,000 residents.
Residents who are not yet vaccinated should do so as soon as possible. Free vaccination appointments and walk-in opportunities are available at multiple locations across the County. https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/ or call 240-777-2982.