Montgomery County leaders link restrictions to safe reopening of schools

As more businesses reopen in Montgomery County and others stay closed, leaders say safe reopening of schools is linked to current restrictions.

On Monday, the Montgomery County Council decided to allow bowling alleys to reopen with capacity limits, the decision coming over two months after the state allowed bowling alleys to reopen.

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Jackie Sewell, manager of Bowl America Gaithersburg, said she only found out on Saturday this was under consideration.

“I was so excited I couldn’t sleep Saturday night,” said Sewell. “And then on Sunday, I got a copy of the new executive order and it was like someone had just burst my balloon.”

Sewell said that’s when she found out about the 50 person capacity limit. She said her bowling center can host nearly 300 bowlers at a time and she was hoping for a 50 percent capacity limit like in Prince George’s County.

“With only 50 people, I’m not going to be able to bring my bowling leagues back,” said Sewell.


Earlier Monday in a virtual meeting, Montgomery County leaders linked decisions like this one directly to opening schools.

“The people of Montgomery County determine whether it’s going to be safe to go back in January,” said Dr. Earl Stoddard, Director Office of Emergency Management.

Council vice-president Tom Hucker tells FOX 5 he’s heard from constituents frustrated by restrictions, including restaurant owners who don’t understand why they can’t serve alcohol past 10 p.m.

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“A major milestone we want to hit is to feel safe enough to open our public schools in January,” Hucker said. “And we’re not really on track to do that at this point. There’s a lot of work we have to do to drive our numbers down in terms of the new cases per day to allow that to happen.”

During the meeting, Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayle’s referenced one study that says a county of this size should only have about 100 new COVID-19 cases per week. Right now the county is averaging over 70 new cases a day.

Gayle’s called it a “tricky balance,” saying the county was still looking at what standard to use.