Breaking News
More () »

Montgomery County Council approves stricter coronavirus restrictions, as cases increase

The new order goes into effect immediately at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed Executive Order 122-20 on Tuesday, reinstating tighter COVID restrictions as case counts continue to rise in the county. The changes mainly revolve around gathering sizes and capacity limits on businesses, which were eased in June when the county entered Phase 2 of its recovery plan.

Major changes in the order include: 

  • Limit gathering sizes to 25 people (reduced from 50)
  • Limit capacity for indoor dining, retail establishments, fitness centers, salons and religious facilities to 25% (reduced from 50%)
  • Cut off carry-out and delivery services from restaurants at 10 p.m. 
  • No alcohol served at restaurants past 10 p.m.
  • Require restaurants to keep a daily record of indoor and outdoor dining customers for at least 30 days to assist with contact tracing

Restaurants that have not received a citation or been closed due to violations related to any executive order related to COVID-19 may apply for a late-night permit to continue selling alcohol until midnight. 

“We have been watching the daily number of new cases go up for more than two weeks and it’s unfortunately time to roll back some of our reopening steps in order to decrease the spike we are seeing,” County Executive Marc Elrich said. “Like you, I am experiencing ‘COVID fatigue’ and want things to go back to normal, but we have to stay at this in order to protect the health of our community.”

Several of the councilmembers expressed their hesitation to tighten the restrictions, given the economic effects the new restrictions would have, but ultimately all voted to pass the order, citing the concerning rise in cases. 

"I am going to support this, but I am concerned about parts of it," Council President Sidney Katz said. "I am also concerned for our small businesses. I believe that we need to be doing this on a regional basis." 

Katz said that if county residents are still permitted to engage in the same "risky" activities in other localities, and then return to Montgomery County, "we have not really done anything other than create a hardship for that business where they didn't go to." 

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to give an update on the state's handling of the coronavirus Tuesday at 5 p.m. 

RELATED: Montgomery County officials propose additional coronavirus restrictions as cases increase; vote delayed

The passage of the executive order comes as COVID cases continue to rise in Montgomery County. The 7-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents in the county has risen sharply to 18.1 as of Nov. 10, which the health department classifies as "very high risk." The 14-day positivity rate, however, remains a "low risk" at 3.8%. The health department estimates that 11.1% of hospital beds are being utilized by COVID patients, which is also classified as "high risk." 

Cases are increasing statewide in Maryland. For the fourth consecutive day, Maryland set a new all-time high daily average for coronavirus cases on Tuesday. The state is now averaging 1,278 new cases a day. Tuesday also marked the seventh consecutive day Maryland has reported more than 1,000 new cases in a single day.

RELATED: 'Just wear the damn mask' | Gov. Hogan calls Maryland's rise in COVID cases 'concerning'

Over the past two days alone Maryland has added 100 new COVID-19 patients to hospital beds in the state. That metric hasn’t increased so swiftly since the early days of the pandemic. As of Tuesday, there are now more than 760 people hospitalized in Maryland for the coronavirus.

The average percent positivity for COVID-19 tests among those 35 and under in Maryland is now above 6% for the first time since early August. Those over 35 have seen a similar rise, though their average positivity remains below 5%.

County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said Thursday that daily COVID-19 transmission rates are the highest they've been since the summer.

“The longer we wait to implement these restrictions and guidelines, we run the risk of increasing the cases even more," Gayles said. 

The new order goes into effect immediately on Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. 

See the full executive order below

RELATED: Coronavirus updates: Virginia sets new record high average for 11th day straight

RELATED: Maryland launches its coronavirus exposure notification app

Download the brand new WUSA9 app here.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.

Before You Leave, Check This Out