Reopening Montgomery: Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility

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July 9, 2020 |  Bookmark and Share

A Message from County Executive Marc Elrich

County Executive Mark Elrich

It is virtually impossible to get 95 percent of the people to agree on anything—no matter how logical and important it may seem.

That is why I was so pleased to learn that, since we entered into Phase 2 of reopening the County more than two weeks ago, 96 percent of the businesses and restaurants that were visited by County business ambassadors and volunteers have been following our guidelines to keep customers and their employees safe.

It is only by following these guidelines that we can re-energize our economy and help our small businesses.

We do not want to end up in a situation that so many states are finding themselves—going backward and needing to again close businesses.

We never want to return to where we were with the number of COVID-19 cases, and the number of deaths, that we had two months ago.

But even with 96 percent of businesses agreeing that we need to follow safety guidelines, I was disappointed that several businesses simply would not comply. In these cases, we could not stand by. We needed to take action. And we did.

As we started to reopen the County, we assembled a force of about 20 business ambassadors. These are people who normally are code inspectors.

They know the County. They know how to work to help businesses. They know their roles in this new time.

The ambassadors have visited more than 2,000 businesses in just a few weeks. Their goal is to help businesses find the most efficient ways to comply with our new era of safety guidelines. If a business or restaurant is having a difficult time meeting guidelines, our ambassadors work with them to find a better way.

Almost all businesses have been appreciative of this special program.

But a few businesses simply refused to comply. They repeatedly allowed customers and their employees to break rules and put those people—and all of the people and the family members they encounter—in danger.

Since they would not accept the help of our ambassadors, and would not comply with our guidelines, we closed down those businesses.

And although I hope we do not have further situations of noncompliance, we will continue to close down any business that does not feel it shares responsibility to keep our entire County safe from COVID-19.

We are all in this together—and that means that 100 percent of our residents and businesses must be working 100 percent of the time to enable us to fight this deadly virus.

We are also in other fights as we try to help those in our County who have been severely impacted by this virus. That is why we are launching the Reopen Montgomery Business Assistance Program with $14 million of funding.

This program will reimburse County businesses and nonprofit organizations that have expenses related to reopening and compliance with new State and County health regulations due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

We understand the importance of our local businesses and nonprofits and this new program shows that we understand how difficult reopening is—and will be.

The program is yet another investment in our future as we continue our work to help our economy and the quality of life for our residents.

And I thank all of you for following the guidelines and for doing your part to keep all of us safe.


Marc Elrich

Marc Elrich,
County Executive


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COVID-19 Free Testing Available at Three Sites with No Doctor’s Order Required

do you need a covid-19 test?

Montgomery County has three sites where residents can get tested for COVID-19. Testing requires an advance appointment, but doctor’s orders are not required and the tests are free.

The test sites are in Germantown, Wheaton and White Oak. Appointments can be made by calling the Testing Helpline at 240-777-1755. The line is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

The test sites will use oral swab tests so the tests are easier and quicker. Results will be issued in approximately 72 hours. 

The test site operation hours are:

  • Germantown. Parking garage behind the Regal Theaters at 20010 Century Blvd. Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Wheaton. Montgomery County Parking Garage No. 45 at 11304 Amhurst Ave. Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • White Oak. Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program site at 2121 Industrial Parkway. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


COVID19 Test Sites

County Officials Close Businesses Not Complying with COVID-19

Montgomery county Emblem

Montgomery County officials have stressed that following COVID-19 safety guidelines must continue under Phase 2 of reopening procedures. Both businesses and individuals need to act responsibly. In the case of businesses, reopening requires adhering to safety guidelines to protect customers and employees.

Montgomery County’s business ambassadors program has visited with more than 2,000 businesses, offering assistance on how they can best keep their establishments safe. Overall, more than 95 percent have been in compliance and numerous others adjust situations that were not following restrictions. However, several businesses have not been following restrictions after repeated visits, and over the past week, those business were closed by County officials for noncompliance.

“The overwhelming majority of our businesses are open, following rules intended to keep everyone safe and enthusiastic about being able to serve their customers and clients once again,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “I will reiterate what I have said before and about which I have been very clear: Businesses will stay open provided they follow the public health guidelines. If they choose to ignore public health guidance, we will shut them down.”


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2 ABS Stores Temporarily Impacted as Employees Test Positive for COVID-19

ABS logo

Two liquor and wine retail stores operated by Montgomery County’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS) have been impacted within the past week after employees tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

ABS closed its Flower Avenue store in Silver Spring on Tuesday, July 7, after learning one store employee tested positive for COVID-19. The store, which is located at 8706-B Flower Avenue in Silver Spring, remained closed all day Tuesday. That enabled ABS to have a specialized unit perform a deep cleaning and sanitization, which included cleaning all surfaces and products, and fogging with specialized machines. The store reopened at noon on Wednesday, July 8.

Earlier in the week, ABS closed its Darnestown Liquor and Wine store, located at 12155 Darnestown Road in Gaithersburg, after three employees tested positive for COVID-19. A fourth employee at that store also has tested positive. The number of employees in quarantine caused staffing shortages, which forced the Darnestown store to close for two weeks. This store is scheduled to reopen on Monday, July 20.

Face coverings, plexiglass shields, temperature checks, hourly handwashing, hand sanitizing between transactions and social distancing are mandated in all stores.


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County Recreation Pools Now Open

pool reopen

Montgomery County Recreation has opened its seven outdoor pools and three indoor aquatic centers as part of the County’s Phase 2 reopening plan. Pools are open to pass-holders only.

Outdoor pools are open for two-hour sessions of recreational swimming between noon and 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Indoor aquatic centers are open for lap swimming only. The centers are open for two-hour sessions between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

All swim sessions require a reservation. Reservations can be made online at Instructions on how to reserve swim session can be found at

Among the special procedures in place for safety:

  • All patrons two years old and over must use a face covering while on the pool deck, in common areas and when social distancing is not possible. Face coverings are not required when in the water.
  • Family groups are asked to stay together. Individuals and family groups are asked to maintain at least six feet of social distancing from others at all times.
  • Pool features including crossing features, saunas, hot tubs and the lazy river are closed. All wading pools—also known as baby pools or tot pools—remain closed.

Restrooms in locker rooms and bath houses are available.


Pool information

Montgomery Parks Reopens Ice Rinks, Indoor Tennis Facilities, Wheaton Sports Pavilion and Other Facilities — With Restrictions

indoor tennis

Montgomery Parks, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has reopened its ice rinks, indoor tennis centers, the Wheaton Sports Pavilion and two event centers— with various restrictions. These facilities were previously closed to the public in March to prevent the spread of COVID- 19. 

The facilities are operating with limited capacity, physical distancing procedures and face covering requirements. All are precautionary measures that are in accordance with Maryland and County reopening guidelines. 

Cabin John Ice Rink and Wheaton Ice Arena are only open for individual athletic training (no public skating sessions are currently being offered). 

The indoor tennis centers at Wheaton Regional Park and Cabin John Regional Park and Wheaton Sports Pavilion are now open for reservations. Showers and locker rooms are currently closed.

Seneca Lodge and Rockwood Manor are accepting reservations for small bookings.  

Montgomery Parks previously reopened boat rentals at Seneca Lake and Lake Needwood, the driving range and miniature golf at South Germantown Recreational Park, miniature trains at Wheaton Regional Park and Cabin John Regional Park and outdoor tennis courts. Playgrounds are gradually reopening, with all 276 playgrounds expected to be open by mid-July. 


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‘BikeMatchMoCo’ Is Region’s First Program Directing Unused Bikes to People Who Need Them

bike match

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has created the Washington Region’s first free government-sponsored program that enables people with extra, unused bicycles to donate them directly to individuals who need a bike. In the first two weeks of the “BikeMatchMoCo” program, the expressed need for bikes was overwhelming and the program is seeking additional donations.

BikeMatchMoCo is particularly timely because of the way the COVID-19 health crisis has changed daily routines and travel needs for many people. That includes some who typically rely on public transit, but are currently looking for other modes of transportation. As Montgomery County moves to advanced phases of reopening, the need for low-cost and flexible transportation has become pressing.

In its first two weeks, the program generated more than 200 requests from people needing bikes. Five matches and transactions have been completed. The program is seeking more donated bicycles to meet the need.

Through its online site, BikeMatchMoCo offers opportunities for donors and those needing a bike to fill in a simple registration form. The information is reviewed by MCDOT staff to match bikes available for donation with new owners.

The request/donation form is available at


Press Release

Taiwanese and Pacific Islander Organizations Donate Masks to Aid County Response

APAPA Donation

Montgomery County this week received a total of 40,000 much-needed surgical masks that were donated by Taiwanese and Pacific Islander organizations. County Executive Marc Elrich was among those present at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Gaithersburg to receive the donations.

The Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of North America (TCCNA) contributed 20,000 masks. TECRO and the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA) each donated 10,000 masks.

“We have built relationships with these organizations in good times,” said County Executive Elrich. “Now, in a time of need, what we have developed in friendship is helping us in a time of crisis. I want to thank each organization for its generosity in helping keep Montgomery County residents safe.”

Daniel Chou, TECRO’s director of the Consular Division, and the organization’s deputy director of the Consular Division, Paul Wang, also were present for the formal presentation of the masks. County Executive Elrich presented citations to them, TCCNA representative Corinna Shen and APAPA representative Stan Tsai.  

“We are still seeing a spike in other states,” Maryland State Delegate Lily Qi said of the data showing increased cases of COVID-19 in many areas of the nation. “So this is not the time to be complacent. We still need supplies to be ready.”  

The County continues to collect personal protective equipment for use by frontline workers and first responders. The County’s Department of General Services inventories the supplies so they can be distributed as needed.

For more information on making a donation or arranging to volunteer, visit


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Travel in the Time of COVID-19

airport travelers during covid 19

After months cooped up inside, most people are ready for a break. School is out, the weather is sweltering and County residents are ready to escape. Many original summer plans are no longer appropriate. However, there any adventures that can be both fun and safe as the COVID-19 health crisis continues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends considering the following in deciding where to go this summer:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your destination? Many popular summer destination states eased COVID-19 restrictions early, or never implemented meaningful restrictions in the first place. Now, many are experiencing surging cases numbers. The risk of traveling to these areas is high and there is the possibility that you may need to quarantine upon your return.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading rapidly in your community? Montgomery County and Maryland residents have continued to follow safety guidelines to slow the spread of the virus. As a result, travel to certain destinations in Maryland poses a lower risk than to areas without stringent safety guidelines. However, even while visiting, face coverings should be worn when possible and safe distancing guidelines should be followed.
  • Are there travel restrictions in place at your destination? Many traditional summer vacation destinations like Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York have travel restrictions in place. Some require a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Others allow for testing to demonstrate you are healthy upon arrival and require paperwork to show you have met that standard.

Find links to each state’s health departments here:

AAA has an interactive map that displays details on travel restrictions and guidelines at

  • Will your plans require you to be within six feet of people outside your household? Plans involving buses or airplanes, or accommodations with shared facilities—like bathrooms at a campground — create greater risk.
  • Is anyone in your household or close family at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19? If you become infected on your vacation, you risk exposing your loved ones upon your return, even if you appear asymptomatic.
  • Important questions to ask before booking travel: Ask for clarity on the cancellation and refund policies for your transportation and lodgings. Ask about COVID-19 prevention practices.

As you travel, be sure to pack all of your medications and a substantial first aid kit. Bring generous amounts of sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer and wear a face covering at any stop. Pack plenty of snacks and water from home to minimize stops along the way.

Have fun — and travel safe.


Find State Health Department