Council to Hold Hearing, Vote Today on Easing Some COVID–19 Restrictions

The County Council is set to meet this afternoon for a public hearing and vote on revisions County Executive Marc Elrich has proposed to his executive orders implementing certain pandemic-related restrictions in the county.

Earlier this week, Governor Larry Hogan lifted many statewide COVID-19 restrictions as of 5 p.m. Friday, March 12. For example, restaurants and bars, retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos, personal services, and indoor recreational establishments would be allowed to operate at maximum capacity.

In addition, he retracted the authority granted to the county to issue a local order that was more restrictive than the governor’s order.

However, the council, sitting as the Board of Health, retains the power as an independent authority to issue a public health regulation to continue restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19. That vote also is scheduled for today.

The regulation is expected to make the following changes from current local restrictions, among others, according to the council staff report:

  • Remove all local restrictions on childcare facilities, requiring them to follow state requirements
  • Increase outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people and indoor gatherings to a maximum of 25
  • Remove the space limits of one person per 200 square feet
  • Remove the alcohol limits on food service facilities as well as the restriction on buffet services
  • Remove outdoor structure requirements for food service facilities
  • Increase capacity for religious facilities to 50%
  • Permit arts and entertainment facilities to open at 25% capacity on March 26, provided they do not sell or permit food for consumption in the facility, and
  • Raise the capacity limits for indoor dining at food service facilities, fitness centers, bowling alleys, escape rooms, museums and art galleries, personal services facilities, pools, retail establishments, and recreation centers from 25% to 50%, also on March 26.

Except as otherwise noted, the regulation would go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, March 12.

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