Montgomery County begins Phase One of COVID-19 reopening plan

Businesses prepare for reopening in downtown Bethesda.

Christian Larson

Businesses prepare for reopening in downtown Bethesda.

By Christian Larson

Montgomery County has entered phase one of its COVID-19 reopening plan at 6 a.m. on June 1st.

This initial stage will allow many services to resume business for the first time since early March. 

Phase one will allow the following services to reopen: bar, restaurants, hair salons, childcare services, barber shops, car washes, outdoor day camps, youth sports and manufacturing plants.  

“While we are trending in the right direction, clearly the virus is still here in the community, so we must remain focused on maintaining our habits of physical distancing, and wearing a face covering when out in public,” Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said at a May 28 press conference.

Some businesses and services that are reliant on large, compact groups of people remaining in one space will remain closed during phase one. These include nail salons, pools, shopping malls, gyms, senior centers and movie theaters. 

While the state of Maryland began reopening on May 15, Montgomery County remained closed due to its high number of COVID-19 infections. Montgomery County had the second highest number of cases out of any county in Maryland, with roughly 11,000 reported cases. 

County officials felt encouraged to reopen because the county made improvements in its testing capabilities and saw a decrease in the percent of positive tests. 

“The only reason we didn’t have a steep curve [in infections] is because of the actions we took,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said in a March 28 press conference.

While the county is moving in a safer direction, some students are concerned that the reopening of businesses is too much of an overcorrection, said junior Finn Martin.

“I think we should wait a little bit more in the summer,” he said. “By the time we’re able to hunker down and wait a bit longer, I believe businesses will be able to open up without many repercussions.” 

Montgomery County will continue to uphold safety  guidelines to encourage social distancing. Individuals are still required to wear masks at certain facilities like grocery stores and restaurants, and gatherings remain limited to fewer than ten people.  

“I urge you to follow the guidelines so that we can keep moving forward and not have spikes in the number of cases.” Elrich said. “This first phase can be successful if all of us do our part and follow the guidelines.”