County Council resolution tightens COVID-19 safety requirements for organized sports


Photo courtesy Claire Lane

Council members discuss new resolution in response to the coronavirus pandemic

By Claire Lane

The Montgomery County Council unanimously voted to adopt a First Amended Board of Health Regulation on Friday, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Montgomery County.

According to the resolution document, all organized sports played will now need to obtain a COVID Protocol Plan approved by the Health Officer or the Health Officer’s designee. Athletic organizations’ protocol plans will need to include contact tracing, face coverings and social distancing to the extent possible.

Though the Council approved this mandate, several concerned members of the public voiced their opposition to some of the proposed protocols. 

Matt Liber, Executive Director of the athletic facility Maryland Soccerplex, testified to express his concern over the resolution’s new mask mandate and the potential effect it may have on revenue. 

“We are the only county that has the mask mandate,” Liber said. “We have already lost potential events, and if we don’t drop the mask mandate, the county could lose $17 million from April to August.”

Executive Director of the Potomac Soccer Association Laurie Lane expressed similar concern, mainly that the mask mandate may drive sports teams out of Montgomery County to places where such restrictions are not legally binding — a move which may wind up costing local businesses much-needed customers in a period of economic recovery.

“Sports teams in surrounding counties refuse to come to Montgomery County to participate, which leaves players no choice but to leave the county to seek competition,” Lane said. “This mandate is literally driving businesses away.”

On the other side of this issue, some student athletes believe the protocols are necessary and the safety of community members is the priority. 

“I definitely think the new protocols are necessary and honestly seem to be the bare minimum,” said junior Audrey Ostoyich, a tennis player. “Of course I want a season, but I think safety should come first. There are ways to support the economy while still being safe. 

Councilmember Hans Reimer ended the meeting by asking current student -athletes to use their best judgement and follow health guidelines, implying that leaving the county for areas with fewer safety restrictions is not a long-term solution.

“Please use your leadership, be an example, and follow all necessary practices and protocols so that the schools can continue to be open,” Reimer said. “Let’s all win this one together.”