Bethesda ‘Streetery’ draws weekend crowd as Montgomery County waits to announce phase  2 reopening 

It could be a few more days before Montgomery County takes its next big step toward opening some more.

County Executive, Marc Elrich announced earlier this week that if current COVID-19 trends continue, the county could move to phase 2 of reopening next week

RELATED: Montgomery County likely to enter phase 2 of reopening next week, exec says

But Friday night, people in Bethesda were out and about taking advantage of the ‘streetery’ concept that kicked off on Wednesday. 

The outdoor dining concept has created additional restaurant seating outdoors in downtown Bethesda. The set-up is open seating, with all tables placed at least 6’ apart and a limit of four people permitted per table. Restaurant patrons are invited to dine within this open-air area after picking up food and beverages from a local restaurant.

“I think people are just starting to get their sea legs and figure out what’s right for them whether it makes sense for them to go out or not,” said Claire Watts of Bethesda.

For many people, it did make sense, especially when they didn’t have to keep driving around looking for parking like they would be on a typical summer evening downtown.

“It’s very weird,” said Kate Faxon of Rockville, “but I am loving it because I’m usually the one looking for parking on these streets and the parking garages were really empty which is surprising.”

For some restaurant owners being able to utilize closed streets to create essentially a whole new eating space meant, a lot of preparation and new changes.

“Trying to figure out service without being able to smile at people, wearing masks and rubber gloves and handing out plastic cups instead of glass wear, it’s been a learning process,” explained Ashish Alfred of Duck Duck Goose.

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The county is taking some time getting into phase 2 of its reopening. It’s something that council member Andrew Friedson said he’s aware, some people have criticized the county for.

“We are trying to reopen just as fast as the public health experts think is safe to do so,” Friedson said.

“We are not going to start loosening restrictions when we get to zero but what we want to see is the key metrics that we have published.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how long the streetery concept will last until Elrich makes another announcement expected next week, regarding phase 2. 

In the meantime, Friedson said Norfolk Avenue is being envisioned as a pedestrian street which the county plans to move forward with very soon.