BETHESDA, MD — Montgomery County is loosening restrictions on religious gatherings and mask wearing policies, but keeping a cap on indoor dining.
It’s all part of an updated executive order issued by County Executive Marc Elrich (D) on Tuesday. All changes went into effect at 5 p.m.
Until now, facilities could only have one participant (or household) for every 200 square feet of religious ceremony space.
But under the amended executive order, gathering sizes are now determined by dividing the total square footage of the worship space by 50. Occupancy is capped at 40 percent.
Seating must also be marked to reflect social distancing rules. For facilities with fixed seating or pews, every other row must remain empty.
People who aren’t from the same household must maintain six feet of distance at all times unless their job or safety requires otherwise (i.e., pallbearers).
Prior to the first service of each day, all faith leaders, volunteers, and staff must be screened for symptoms and asked whether they’ve been in close contact with an infected person.
A religious tenant can choose whether to take people’s temperatures. Anyone with a temperature in excess of 100.4°F must be excluded from the religious facility until at least 72 hours after symptoms resolve.
Children under the age of 18 no longer have to wear masks while playing sports.
Plastic full-face shields are no longer considered a type of face covering.
Face coverings — bandanas, scarfs, medical-grade masks — must still cover you mouth, nose, and chin.
Everyone to wear a mask in public unless they are:
- children under the age of two or children with a developmental or physical condition
- have a health condition or disability that makes it difficult to wear a face covering
A face covering is still required in various public settings, including:
- on public transportation
- indoors at any location where members of the public are generally permitted (i.e., supermarkets, retail stores, and gyms and fitness centers)
- outdoors (when physical distancing isn’t possible)
Indoor Food Service
Montgomery County is opting out of Gov. Larry Hogan’s guidance to increase indoor dining from 50 to 75 percent.
Under the amended executive order, indoor dining is strictly capped at 50 percent.