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After receiving pressure from Governor Larry Hogan, Montgomery County has a set date to start reopening. County Executive Marc Elrich announced on Thursday that Montgomery County will enter Phase One of the reopening plan at 6 a.m. on Monday, June 1.
Earlier that week, Hogan mentioned how Montgomery County is the only county in Maryland that hasn’t set a reopening date. Hogan said that Montgomery County “ought to move forward.” Local leaders in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County were given flexibility when choosing reopening dates as they were hit the hardest with COVID-19 cases.
“The county leaders begged for and requested that flexibility in the decision-making ability on their individual counties, which we gave them. Then some of them seemed to say we shouldn’t have given them what they asked for,” Hogan said.
Elrich and County Health Advisor Dr. Travis Gayles were met with a tough crowd at Kentlands Market Square in Gaithersburg where the Thursday announcement was made. Both Elrich and Gayles were booed as they came up to the microphone and frequently interrupted by the displeased protestors. Elrich was called a “fascist dictator” multiple times and was catcalled. Attendees were split between reopening Montgomery County and keeping the lockdown in place and aggravated disputes emerged repeatedly as the officials outlined the new rules.
“This is an important first step… I urge you to follow the guidelines so that we can keep moving forward and not have spikes in the number of cases. This first phase can be successful if all of us do our part and follow the guidelines,” Elrich said.
Retail is allowed to reopen but with curbside pickup only. Restaurants and bars can reopen with outdoor seating and continuing curbside delivery. Montgomery County will be closing certain streets to allow more room for outdoor restaurant seating. Childcare facilities that are approved by the state can reopen and care for children of essential workers and Phase One personnel. Barbershops and hair salons can reopen but by appointment only. Car washes can clean the exterior only, and manufacturing can fully reopen with direction from the county and safety precautions. Outdoor day camps and youth sports can open up but are required to follow the Maryland Department of Health guidelines. Certain recreation activities like golfing, shooting ranges and tennis courts, can reopen.
However, not all businesses can reopen during Phase One. Swimming pools are not allowed to open yet for the summer, along with shopping malls. Senior centers, fitness centers, movie theaters and nail salons are also forced to stay closed during Phase One.
“We’re looking at the broader picture of the measures in the context of everything that’s happening,” Gayles said.
Prince George’s County, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia are all starting to carefully reopen despite being hit hard with corona cases. The tides are shifting away from lockdowns and back to normal life.