Montgomery County implements tighter restrictions, asks state to do more with COVID-19 guidance
BETHESDA, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - A spike in coronavirus cases has caused Montgomery County officials to tighten restrictions some more.
As of Tuesday, places like bars, restaurants, salons, bowling alleys and houses of worship were ordered to operate at 25 percent capacity down from 50 percent.
Gatherings of 50 people or more has also been ordered to be reduced to 25 people.
READ MORE: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan warns of major surge in coronavirus cases
During an all-day virtual discussion between the county council and health officers, councilmembers expressed concerns for how the restrictions will be impacting businesses, especially small ones, that are already hanging on by a thread.
Some councilmembers like Craig Rice even shared stories of how the hurting business community is personal to them but that safety and health have to be prioritized.
“We are not taking these decisions lightly but it is for the utmost safety of our residents,” Rice was heard saying during the virtual briefing.
Other councilmembers expressed the need for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to provide more guidance and direction on how to help struggling businesses, by potentially providing a funding relief package.
READ MORE: Maryland tightens coronavirus restrictions as cases surge
On Tuesday, Hogan announced that Maryland will be tightening restrictions as COVID cases rise.
Restaurants will operate at 50 percent capacity down from the 75 percent capacity restriction.
“We need the state to step up and provide leadership,” said councilman Hans Riemer. “We cannot do this all on our own.”
According to the office of the County Executive Marc Elrich, officials have been watching cases go up now for more than two weeks.
The test positivity rate according to county health experts Dr. Travis Gayles and Dr. Earl Stoddard is at 4.48 percent, which is up from Monday’s number of 4.05 percent.
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Health officials are anticipating that the number will go over 5 percent by Friday.
Some businesses told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan Tuesday that many of them have already been limiting how many people they can seat but with the new restrictions, there is no telling how they will manage to keep business running.
“With our inside seating we don’t have a lot of indoor space available just because of the fact of six feet seating,” explained Maria Ramos, a supervisor with Silver diner in Bethesda. “That is already half of what we used to sit before, so now with the 25 percent it will be even tighter, we don’t even know how many people we can get in here.”