FOX 5 gets more answers on Montgomery County’s continued indoor dining ban

Only on FOX 5, we are now getting more answers from a Montgomery County leader on why the indoor dining ban is still in place in the county, the only jurisdiction to still do so.

"Let me make very clear. Indoor dining is not a safe activity. Right? Other jurisdictions are doing it because of economics. And so when we talk about this, we’ve been trying to say – you know we’ve held out more than others because our County Executive is more willing to listen to the public health guidance than … the economic challenges that are posed by it. But it’s still -  it won’t -  if we open-up next week, it won’t be safe either" said Dr. Earl Stoddard, Director of Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Stoddard told FOX 5 in a Monday Zoom interview, the county has erred more on the side public health concerns than economics because they believe there is no strong economy while the virus is running rampant throughout communities.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Montgomery County officials insistent on indoor dining ban

Monday, Stoddard added, is the first day the county has seen certain coronavirus drops: around 30 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and around a 5% positivity rate, meaning there will likely be an announcement to partially resume indoor dining sometime this week or next week. However, when asked, Stoddard still said there is still no threshold.

What is specifically going on in the county?

In general, Stoddard spoke to how they do not believe an indoor situation with someone unmasked when there is an airborne virus is safe.

Specifically to Montgomery County, Stoddard pointed to a metric among restaurant workers.

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"It’s not like we can contract trace to say this is exactly where you’ve been exposed because community transmission is very broad right now, but what we can say is we saw a significant drop, 40-60 percent, in restaurant worker infections once we closed indoor dining, which leads us strongly to indicate that indoor dining is a huge risk factor for restaurant works and presumable other people who are in the restaurants with those restaurant workers."

Stoddard extends that presumed danger to other people, including diners who are not masked while they eat.