The County Council yesterday approved by a 7–2 vote a revised executive order permitting indoor dining in area restaurants, with restrictions.
Councilmembers Will Jawando (D-At Large) and Craig Rice (D-District 2) dissented, citing safety issues, the risk of continuing to spread the pandemic and public health experts’ advice against reopening restaurants.
No councilmember indicated they would be dining indoors anytime soon. However, several noted that constituents were driving to other jurisdictions to dine out, hurting local businesses. “We are an outlier in the region,” said Councilmember Evan Glass, reminding listeners that Montgomery County was the only jurisdiction in the region still disallowing indoor dining.
In addition, several councilmembers indicated they were willing to offer that choice to those who might be comfortable dining in, and to help save local restaurants.
Executive Order 19-21AM will permit restaurants to offer indoor dining at up to 25% of seating capacity. Another condition requires establishments to suspend alcohol sales at 10 p.m. for on-site consumption.
Originally, the order submitted by County Executive Marc Elrich would have allowed diners one hour to order and finish their meals. That restriction was expanded to allow customers 90 minutes to eat.
In addition, the effective date of the order was changed by the executive’s office from 5 p.m. Feb. 9 to 7 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day).
I cannot support opening indoor dining & encourage an activity the @CDCgov, many studies & public health experts have deemed an unsafe activity. Our priority must be reopening our schools considering the harm to our students & to do that we must keep transmission rates down. https://t.co/q6yatnoLri
— Will Jawando (@willjawando) February 9, 2021
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