Reopening Montgomery: Soccer Games Allowed, Voting by Mail is Safe

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August 27, 2020 |  Bookmark and Share

A Message from County Executive Marc Elrich

County Executive Marc Elrich

Dear Friends: 

Your vote matters. We want the election process to go as smoothly as possible amidst this pandemic. The more people who vote by mail, the shorter the wait times at early voting and election day voting sites. Soon all registered voters will be receiving an application to request a mail-in (this used to be called an “absentee”) ballot.   

I cannot say this enough – please vote by mail – and please do not request (unless you have to) the internet/email link, which has to be hand copied and requires two people per ballot to ensure the integrity of the ballot. 

You can also request a mail-in ballot now by texting the letters VBM to 77788 or by visiting the Board of Elections website at The deadline to request a vote by mail ballot is Oct. 20. 

More information about voting by mail is here.

Mail-in ballots will begin arriving as early as the end of September, and there will be about 40 drop boxes available around the County to drop your ballot off if you would prefer that over the U.S. mail. In September, we will list the locations of the boxes. 

And despite wrong comments from some at the national level, the drop boxes are safe – they will be secured to protect your ballot from fraud, and they are not a concern as a transmitter of COVID19. 

If you are not registered to vote, it is not too late. The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 13. 

As I wrote last week, our County-sponsored testing is back up and running. Click here for more information. We will continue to offer testing for people without symptoms, based on the advice of public health experts.   

This week, I updated my executive order regarding reopening guidelines from the COVID-19 health crisis. Museums, art galleries and bowling alleys can now all open – with restrictions.  Soccer games and scrimmages can also resume. However, the maximum number of people –including players, coaches and parents – remains at 50 per field. 

The guidelines still keep our focus on keeping our residents safe. That is why the executive order also modifies the definition of a face covering to include covering the chin - as well as the mouth and nose. Our science, data and experts tell us this can make a significant different in stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

I know that some are unhappy with the continuing restrictions on alcohol sales at restaurants after 10 p.m. We have found that later in the night, drinking increases and adherence to the necessary rules declines. We cannot risk an increase in spread. But we are continuing to review the restrictions and see what might be possible going forward. 

Others are unhappy with the ban on live music performances. This is actually a State order and I have been in touch with the Governor to find out if modifications might be possible that would allow certain types of music performances with restrictions. 

We are also getting closer to the opening of schools. I want to wish all our Montgomery County Public Schools students a good first semester, which will be all virtual. As a former elementary school teacher in a high poverty school, I understand the importance of connections between staff and students, but I also know that MCPS is doing what we all believe is necessary to keep our community safe. 

And finally, I want to let you know that we are beginning a “Reimagining Public Safety” effort with community members More information is available here.  The public is invited to watch. 

Have a good – and safe – week. 



Marc Elrich

Marc Elrich, County Executive


Watch Video

County Now Permits Additional Businesses to Reopen as Part of Updated Phase 2 Guidelines

Reopening Montgomery

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, after consultation with County Health Officer Travis Gayles and based on data from contact tracing, has issued an updated executive order that now allows certain additional openings related to the COVID-19 health crisis. Amended Executive Order 098-20 updating Phase 2 guidelines was unanimously approved on Aug. 24 by the County Council and went into effect that day.

The amended executive order includes additional measures to protect the public from the spread of the virus. One measure modifies the definition of face coverings as fully covering a person’s nose, mouth and chin and is secured to the person’s head. 

The amended order recategorizes soccer from a high- to medium-risk sport, which means scrimmages and games will now be permitted. The amended order also permits museums, art galleries and bowling alleys to open with restrictions. 

The updated executive order:

  • Permits museums and art galleries to open with restrictions.
  • Permits bowling alleys to open with restrictions.
  • Clarifies a requirement for food service facilities to post signs advising customers about face covering and social distancing restrictions. 
  • Recategorizes soccer as a medium-risk sport, which permits scrimmages and games to take place.
  • Modifies the definition of face covering to include covering the chin, as well as the mouth and nose.
  • Continues to prohibit sports tournaments unless the County issues a letter of approval.
  • Sets a 50-person limit for all sporting events that includes coaches, participants and spectators.
  • Prohibits sporting events with teams from outside the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia.

Officials will continue to review these designations and may alter recommendations for sports if they are deemed to be a safer category.


Executive Order

COVID-19 Testing Now Available at 46 Sites in County, 11 Free County-Operated Sites on Upcoming Schedule

COVID19 testing

Montgomery County residents can now find 46 sites around the County where they can get tested for COVID-19. Most are operated by private entities, but the upcoming schedule for County-operated testing has 11 opportunities where residents can get free tests without doctor’s orders required.

Privately operated test sites may have fees. Residents should check before going to those sites.

The County test sites are now operating on a walk-up basis only. The schedule for the upcoming County-operated test sites:

  • Friday, Aug. 28. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Wheaton Library and Community Recreation Center, 11701 Georgia Ave., Wheaton.
  • Monday, Aug. 31. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. PlumGar Community Recreation Center, 19561 Scenery Dr., Germantown.
  • Monday, Aug. 31. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Wheaton Library and Community Recreation Center, 11701 Georgia Ave., Wheaton.
  • Monday, Aug. 31. 1-7 p.m. Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 1. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. White Oak Community Recreation Center, 1700 April Lane, Silver Spring.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 2. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Wheaton Library and Community Recreation Center, 11701 Georgia Ave., Wheaton.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 2. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. CDC Mobile Trailer, Lakeforest Mall, 701 Russell Ave., Gaithersburg (parking lot near food court entrance, directly in front of Ride On transfer station).
  • Thursday, Sept. 3. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. White Oak Community Recreation Center, 1700 April Lane, Silver Spring.
  • Thursday, Sept. 3. 1-7 p.m. Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring.
  • Friday, Sept. 4. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. PlumGar Community Recreation Center, 19561 Scenery Dr., Germantown.
  • Friday, Sept. 4. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. CDC Mobile Testing Trailer, Recreation Department Administration Building, 4010 Randolph Rd., Silver Spring.


More Information

Residents Encouraged to Vote by Mail for November Election

vote by mail

Election Day is Nov. 3 and the COVID-19 health crisis has changed the election process in Maryland, including a change from traditional local voting precincts to a system where there will be centralized voting centers on Election Day. Now is the time to develop a voting plan for the upcoming election.

For anyone who is not registered, the deadline for voter registration is Oct. 13. The Montgomery County Board of Elections encourages voters to start a "Vote Plan" for the upcoming election.

Due to COVID-19, the Board recommends voting by mail. A mail-in ballot can be requested by texting the letters VBM to 77788 or by visiting the Board of Elections website at

A ballot will not be mailed to voters like was done during for the 2020 primary. An application to request a vote by mail ballot (formerly called absentee ballots) will be mailed to voters next week. A mail-in ballot can be requested now by going to the County’s website.

Voters are strongly encouraged to select the ballot delivery method “In the mail” when they receive a ballot application. The paper ballot received will be the actual ballot that will go through the vote counting scanner.

The application also will have an “internet/email” option. It is intended for people for whom the mail is not a good option. A ballot printed from the internet must be copied onto a scanable ballot by a bipartisan canvass team, which is difficult with COVID-19. The deadline to request a vote by mail ballot is Oct. 20. Registered voters also can request a mail-in ballot online by visiting the Board of Elections website.

Election workers are needed to assist voters on Election Day. Election workers (or election judges) must be registered Maryland voters. Workers can earn up to $310 and Montgomery County students can earn up to 25 Student Service Learning (SSL) hours per day in lieu of a stipend.

To inquire about becoming an election worker, text SERVE to 77788. Information also is available at and the elections website.


Voting Information

County Offers Immunizations for Children Returning to School; Immunization Requirements Remain in Effect

children immunization

Montgomery County health officials are offering free immunizations to eligible school-aged  children so that immunization requirements are met before the beginning of the upcoming 2020-21 school year.  Children returning to virtual school on Monday, Aug. 31, are required to have immunizations up to date, and parents must submit documentation by the first day of attendance. If students are not in compliance with immunization requirements, they can be excluded from school beginning Sept. 20.

Free immunizations for students new to Montgomery County Public Schools and children in kindergarten through 12th grade are available Monday through Friday, by appointment, at locations in Silver Spring and in Germantown.

 Appointments are available at:

  • Dennis Avenue Health Center. 2000 Dennis Ave., Silver Spring. Phone: 240-777-1050.
  • Germantown Health Center. 12900 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown. Phone: 240-777-3380.

There will be additional clinics offered on Saturday, Sept. 12, and Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Dennis Avenue Health Center.

Parents can access their child’s vaccination record online at no cost at the Maryland Department of Health’s web portal. Users can view and print official copies of vaccination records without a request to their health care provider.


Maryland’s Immunization Requirements

Four More ‘Shared Streets’ Temporary Neighborhood Greenways Aim to Make Local Roads More Friendly for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

shared streets

Four local streets in Montgomery County will be transformed into more friendly roadways for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-vehicular users starting on Friday, Aug. 28, as the Department of Transportation (MCDOT) unveils the newest “Shared Streets” in a program that encourages roads to be shared by vehicles and other users.

Shared Streets “Temporary Neighborhood Greenways” limit vehicular traffic to local traffic only, providing access to residents, service providers and deliveries. The concept restricts other traffic to support shared outdoor uses in response to the COVID-19 health crisis.

The streets to be unveiled on Friday are:

  • Greenwood Ave. in Long Branch. Length of 0.5 miles between Kennebec Avenue and just south of Piney Branch Road.
  • Kennebec Avenue in Silver Spring, Length of 0.4 miles between Sligo Creek Parkway and Long Branch Trail.
  • Sudbury Road in Silver Spring. Length of 0.7 miles between Plymouth Street and the northern terminus just south of Franklin Avenue.
  • Windham Lane in Wheaton. Length of 0.9 miles between Amherst Avenue and Sligo Creek Trail.

Previously established Shared Street pilot programs that continue to be available are on Grove Street in Silver Spring and Holdridge Road in Glenmont Hills. 

Future Shared Street programs are planned for Silver Spring’s Woodland Drive South (from Spring Street to Flora Lane) and Woodland Drive North (from Forest Glen Road to Amherst Avenue at Windham Lane).

Shared Streets programs have also included the partial closing of streets so local restaurants could expand their outdoor seating during the health crisis while maintaining ADA-compliant pedestrian access along sidewalks. MCDOT’s efforts have supported the programs of Downtown Bethesda’s “Streetery”Silver Spring’s “Streetdine” and Wheaton’s "Streetery".

The Shared Streets concept supports the County’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate severe injuries and fatalities from traffic-related incidents by 2030.


Shared Streets 

Montgomery Parks to Continue ‘Open Parkways’ Program on Weekend

open parkway

Montgomery Parks, which is part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is extending its “Open Parkways” initiative to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to use parkways on weekends until further notice. On Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-8, the parkways will be open for recreation and exercise from 9 a.m. on Friday through 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

After Labor Day weekend, Little Falls Parkway will be open to pedestrians and cyclists only on weekends starting at 7 a.m. on Saturdays through 6 p.m. on Sunday. Sligo Creek Parkway and Beach Drive will be open to pedestrians and bicyclists from 9 a.m. on Fridays through 6 p.m. on Sundays.

“People are really taking advantage of the open parkways as a great way to exercise and enjoy nature while still being able to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Mike Riley, director of Montgomery Parks. “The recent decision by Montgomery County Public Schools to hold school virtually for the first semester reminds us that we are still very much in the midst of the pandemic and need these outdoor opportunities. In response, we plan to continue this initiative until further notice.” 

The program includes the following parkway portions: 

  • Sligo Creek Parkway:
    • Old Carroll Avenue to Piney Branch Road (1.1 miles)
    • Forest Glen Road to University Boulevard West (1.5 miles)
  • Little Falls Parkway from Massachusetts Ave. to Arlington Rd. (1.3 miles)
  • Beach Drive from Connecticut Avenue to Knowles Avenue (2.7 miles)

Users of the parkways should follow COVID-19 safety guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as those established by Maryland and Montgomery County.


 More on Montgomery Parks

Early Care and Education Initiative’s Child Care Recovery Grant Program Awards $10 Million to 467 Providers

childcare grants

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has announced that 467 child care centers and home-based child care sites received a total of $10 million in awards through the County’s Child Care Recovery Program.

The grants are critical to the County’s recovery so that family members can go back to work and ensure that their children are in safe and caring environments. The funds support the reopening expenses and compensates providers for financial losses caused by COVID-19.  

“Providing safe child care, which is essential for so many of our residents—especially during this pandemic—is challenging and costly,” said County Executive Elrich. “I am pleased we are able to provide some relief for this vital requirement during these difficult times.”

In March 2019, the County Executive and County Council unveiled the Early Care and Education Initiative (ECEI), a four-year action plan to expand child care options for infants, toddlers and preschoolers; provide greater access to more families; and support school and community providers. The effort is led by the County Executive, County Council, the County’s Department of Health and Human Services, Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College. The ECEI Steering Committee serves as the lead in COVID-19 recovery issues for early care and education, including oversight of the Child Care Recovery Program.

"Child care providers are an essential part of Montgomery County's economic engine and recovery efforts," said Council President Sidney Katz. "We thank them for their ongoing commitment to our children and their parents during this challenging time. The fact is that our community members cannot return to their jobs if they are unable to find safe and affordable child care options, and both of these things have been jeopardized by COVID-19. While we continue to advocate for additional state and federal funding, this $10 million investment has been of great assistance to some of the child care providers in our community."

There are more than 1,300 licensed child care programs, including centers and home-based programs, in Montgomery County. Approximately 660 child care providers applied for these funds. A full list of those receiving grants can be found on the COVID-19 website


More Details

‘Picnic in the Park’ Program Now Available in Nine County Parks

picnic in the parks

Montgomery Parks, Visit Montgomery and the MoCo Eats program have teamed up to create a new Picnic in the Park program that is now in place in nine County parks. The program will enable park visitors to order food from participating restaurants and have it delivered to designated spots in the respective park.

Park visitors can use the program by finding designated signs in Picnic in the Park locations. By taking a cell phone photo of the QR code on the sign, they will then be shown all of the available restaurants that will deliver food to that park. Each park has a designated delivery zone, along with multiple picnic circles that are physically distanced to allow meals to be enjoyed safely.

Picnic in the Park locations are:


Picnic in the Park 

City of Gaithersburg Adopts County’s Limits on Pesticide Uses

laws and regulations

The City of Gaithersburg has adopted Montgomery County’s law that limits the use of pesticides. The County law, which until now did not apply to businesses and residents in the municipality of Gaithersburg, will take effect in the city on Dec. 1, 2020.

The County’s pesticide law, which was approved by the County Council in 2015 and upheld by a ruling of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in May 2019, restricts the use of certain pesticides and herbicides on private lawns, playgrounds, mulched recreation areas and private childcare facilities.

While the law does not ban the sale of any pesticides, it does regulate what can be applied. For more information about the pesticide law and how to maintain an organic lawn, visit the Montgomery County website or email the County’s Department of Environmental Protection at For more information about pesticide initiatives in Gaithersburg, visit the City of Gaithersburg website.


County’s Pesticides Law