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Montgomery County moves to Phase 2 of reopening. Here's what is changing

Once 50% of the population is fully vaccinated with the COVID vaccine, residents in Montgomery County must follow any state guidance/rules, officials say.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County officials announced Monday that the county will move to its second phase of reopening, effective May 17.

The second phase, which begins when 60% of the county’s population has received their first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, will bring a slew of changes throughout the county.

Effective immediately, the following changes will go into effect in Montgomery County:

  • Indoor gathering limits increase to 250 people 
  • No limits on outdoor gatherings
  • Most businesses move to 75% capacity.
  • Camps can increase to 250 people indoors with no capacity limit outdoors and may permit campers from outside of Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia.
  • Convention and banquet facilities are limited to 50% of the facility's maximum capacity per state restrictions.
  • Cigar and hookah bars may permit smoking outdoors.
  • Foodservice establishments may move to 75% of maximum capacity.
  • Religious facilities may move to 75% of maximum capacity.
  • Sports may increase capacity for participants and spectators to 250 people indoors and no limit outdoors and may engage in play with teams from outside Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia.

Once 50% of the population is fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine, the county will move to phase 3 -- following state or Maryland Department of Health requirements. 

"We are grateful to all our residents who have stepped up to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones, and our community," Council President Tom Hucker said. "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."

The county's most recent reopening guidance says they will move to this third and final phase on May 28 at 6 a.m. 

“Since the beginning of this year, we have made great progress vaccinating the residents of Montgomery County by prioritizing equity and addressing hesitancy,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said. “By aligning our reopening to vaccination rates, our goal is to incentivize our residents to get vaccinated while also ensuring we are reopening as safely as possible.”

Note: “Fully vaccinated” means two weeks after a person has received all required doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Just last week, Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland would be lifting its statewide mask mandate in addition to relaxing both indoor and outdoor capacity restrictions for the state; both went into effect starting Saturday, May 15 at midnight.

Hogan said Maryland's indoor mask mandate will be lifted as the state will fall in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's newly released guidance.  The only exceptions for mandatory mask-wearing will be public transportation, health care settings and schools.

“Today is the day that so many of us have been waiting for and working toward. We finally do clearly see the light at the end of that tunnel. Our long, hard-fought battle against the worst global pandemic in more than a century is finally nearing an end," Hogan said during his second COVID news briefing this week.

As of Friday, 65.4% of the state’s adult population received one dose of a vaccine. More than 2.5 million people are fully vaccinated across Maryland.

Read the newly amended order on Maryland's mask mandate below:

“As a direct result of our incredibly fast pace of vaccinations and because of the subsequent declines of hospitalizations, positivity rate, transmission rates and case rates, today we are able to take additional action are return to normalcy," Hogan said.

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