Reopening Montgomery: Moving Ahead–Safely

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October 1, 2020 |  Bookmark and Share

A Message from County Executive Marc Elrich

County Executive Marc Elrich

Dear Friends:

If you are a sports fan, you may have seen that from the time when the National Hockey League returned in August through the final weeks of play, it had zero positive COVID-19 tests.  The NHL conducted 33,174 tests during that time among the 24 teams that were competing, as is documented in this Time Magazine story. The NHL accomplished this by keeping all of its essential personnel in two “bubbles,” central locations in which no outsiders were permitted and where strict guidelines and procedures were implemented.

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, including those of us in Montgomery County, we do not operate in a bubble. While many of you are following the guidelines we have implemented, others are not and the virus has continued to spread.

Some have asked why we can’t move to Phase 3 of reopening and ease up on the restrictions we have in place. We are not doing that because I am following the guidance of our public health experts and examination of the data. Our numbers are higher right now than they were when we began Phase 2 reopening guidelines. Some of the indicators are improving, including reduced hospitalization rates. Our numbers have been going up and down, but we need them to go down—constantly and consistently.

When we have been advised that lifting certain restrictions could be done safely, we have done so. However, when we are concerned about activities that could contribute to the spread of Covid-19, we have implemented restrictions.

In August, we limited restaurants and bars from serving alcohol after 10 p.m.  We have seen that, later at night—as people drink more and eat less—there tends to be more violations of physical distancing, mask wearing and other requirements. We do not have enough inspectors to constantly enforce the restrictions. We heard from many business owners who were upset with this restriction, and my staff has worked with representatives from the industry to develop modified guidelines. This week I issued an updated Executive Order that will allow many restaurants to sell alcohol on their premises up to midnight and today the County Council approved the amended guidelines. You can read more about the updated order here.

Under the new provisions that go into effect today, restaurant owners will take more responsibility toward enforcing safety guidelines, especially if they get late-night alcohol permits. Violations will be costly to them financially. We want them to succeed in enforcing these regulations.

We all have a stake in their ability to make this program work. When people act safely in restaurants, there is more chance they will stay safe—and less chance they will be carriers of COVID-19 to their friends, family and co-workers.

Every time we can make a next step in reopening our County work, it provides helpful information on how we can expand our reopening in other aspects. Today’s step is an important one for restaurants and bars. Making it work is important to all of us.

I can’t emphasize enough: I want to see all of our County reopen. It gives me no pleasure to institute these restrictions and requirements, but I do it because I have a responsibility to protect the public health.

So, please keep doing your part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. You can make a difference.


Marc Elrich


Marc Elrich,
County Executive

P.S. In my video, which is linked below, I show the drop boxes for mail-in ballots and talk about plans for the upcoming election.


Watch Video

Many Montgomery Restaurants and Bars Can Begin Serving Alcohol After 10 p.m.

alcohol serving in restaurant

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposal to allow many County restaurants and bars to serve alcohol after 10 p.m. was approved by the Montgomery County Council on Oct. 1. The proposal, which County Executive Elrich made after consulting with County Health Officer Travis Gayles, updated the Executive Order regarding safety regulations during the continuing COVID-19 health crisis. Establishments can begin applying to be part of the late-night program immediately.


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COVID-19 Testing Now Available at More than 45 Sites in County; 14 Upcoming Opportunities at Free County-Operated Clinics

testing updates

There are more than 45 sites in Montgomery County where residents can get tested for COVID-19, including County-operated and privately operated clinics. There will be County-operated testing at 14 clinics on the upcoming schedule.

Testing at County clinics is free, does not require a doctor’s referral and is available by making advance appointments or on a walk-up basis. Reservations can be made online at


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Voting Update: Avoid Lines and Stay Safe by Voting by Mail

make your mailbox your ballot box

Election day—Tuesday, Nov. 3—is about one month away, and for those who have ordered mail-in ballots (it is not too late to do that), they will arrive soon, if they have not already arrived. In Montgomery County, there will be only about 40 polling places open throughout the County on Election Day (usually there are 255 voting locations). There is some important information about voting you will want to know.

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Montgomery Parks Cancels 2020 Garden of Lights Winter Display at Brookside Gardens

montgomery parks M-NCPPC

The annual Garden of Lights winter light display and garden railway exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton has been cancelled by Montgomery Parks for 2020 due to the continuing COVID-19 health crisis. The Washington, Virginia and Maryland Garden Railway Society’s G-scale train exhibit that is traditionally hosted in the Brookside Conservatory also will not be held.   


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budget forum

Montgomery County Recreation Starts New Pool Reservation System 


Montgomery County Recreation has started a new pool reservation system designed to create an easier and better user experience at the County’s four indoor aquatic centers. The new system is for reservations beginning Monday, Oct. 5.

The reservation system is now in effect for the Germantown Indoor Swim Center, the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center in North Bethesda and the Olney Swim Center. It will apply to the Martin Luther King Jr. Indoor Swim Center in White Oak after it reopens following renovations in November.


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County Executive is Holding Series of Virtual FY22 Budget Forums; Next One on Thursday, Oct. 8

virtual town hall meeting

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is holding a series of virtual forums about priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Operating Budget and the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) budget. The next forum will be held starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8, and will focus on the operating budget. Each of the forums will be hosted via Microsoft Teams.


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Montgomery County to Join Celebrations of October as ‘Energy Action Month’ and Oct. 7 as ‘Energy Efficiency Day’ with Focus on Lowering Energy Use and Costs

energy action month

October is “Energy Action Month” and Wednesday, Oct. 7, is annually designated at “Energy Efficiency Day.” To join the national celebrations of each, Montgomery County, through the Montgomery Energy Connection network, will be hosting events in partnership with the County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Montgomery County Recreation, the County’s Department of Health and Human Services and community partners to provide residents with information and opportunities to lower energy costs.   


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New Deadline on 2020 Census Will Have Operations Closing on Monday, Oct. 5

census infograhic

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced a new deadline in which it will be closing self-response and field operations for the 2020 Census on Monday, Oct. 5.  All households who have not yet responded are urged to do so online immediately at or via phone at 844-330-2020. There are multiple language options available online and via phone.  


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Maryland Extends Homeowners’ and Renters’ Property Tax Credit Deadlines

MDDAT logo

The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) is extending the deadline to apply for 2020 Homeowners’ and Renters’ Property Tax Credits from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31. The Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Program provides tax relief for eligible homeowners by setting a limit on the amount of property taxes owed based on their income.


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Residents Can Enter the County’s Climate Change Plan Art Contest

climate change art

County residents are invited to submit artwork in a variety of media to Montgomery County’s Climate Change Plan Art Contest. The deadline for entries is Jan. 31—although early submissions are encouraged. Winners will receive $100 prizes.



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Montgomery County Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Transportation to Host “Walktober” to Promote Pedestrian Safety, Access and Health


The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has partnered with State and local agencies, nonprofits and communities across Maryland to celebrate “Walktober,” a month-long series of activities and virtual webinars in October promoting the State’s official exercise: walking. “Walktober” features celebration of the sixth annual Walk Maryland Day on Wednesday, Oct. 7, as well as four webinars focusing on pedestrian safety, health and walking a commuting option.

Maryland named walking as the official State exercise in October 2008.


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Taste of Fenton Village Becomes Month-long Event Throughout October

taste of fenton

The COVID-19 health crisis has led to many changes, and in some cases, cancellations of events this year. However, the Taste the World in Fenton Village celebration in the Fenton Village neighborhood adjacent to Downtown Silver Spring will go on with a new look and modified schedule. This year’s celebration will be held throughout October.


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Input Sought on Future of Wheaton Regional Park

wheaton park

Montgomery Parks, which is part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is updating the master plan for Wheaton Regional Park and is asking residents for their ideas on the park’s future.


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