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Montgomery County limits gathering sizes, requires masks outdoors ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

Maryland's contact tracing data has indicated that family and group gatherings are where a significant number of the state’s cases are occurring.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County officials are implementing several changes that will impact how residents will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday this week.

Effective Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 5 p.m., indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and face coverings must be worn at all times both outdoors and indoors within public facilities, Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles announced Tuesday.

“We are entering a phase of COVID-19 that is very worrisome, and we need every resident to understand what that means,” Gayles said. “It is critical that each one of us takes this directive seriously and does our part to slow the spread."

Gayles said that contact tracing data has indicated that family and group gatherings are where a significant number of the state’s cases are occurring.

"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," Gayles said.

The gathering limits across Montgomery County will not apply to businesses, establishments, or any facilities that are permitted to operate up to 25% capacity, or 25 people -- whichever is lower. Outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people continue to be prohibited, Gayles said.

Montgomery County health officials report 213 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 by the Maryland Department of Health; an increase of more than 2,000 cases in the past week. Montgomery County has now had more than 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 890 deaths.

On Monday, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich took to Twitter to call for the state of Maryland to go back to Phase 1.

In a tweet posted just after midnight Monday, Elrich said the restrictions currently in place for Maryland, "won't bend the curve in the right direction."

Elrich believes even if the possibility of Phase 1 isn't statewide it should be in place for the majority of nearby jurisdictions.

Putting back the Phase 1 restriction will mean residents will have to stay home unless doing essential work, travel or errands. This would also mean restaurants would be limited to carryout only.

Elrich also said Monday he believes, "we're in danger of overwhelming hospitals."

RELATED: Hogan launches COVID-19 'compliance units,' calls on Marylanders to wear masks, keep distance during the holidays

RELATED: Montgomery Co. Executive Marc Elrich wants Maryland to go back to Phase 1

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