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Press Releases - County Council

Councilmembers to Introduce Regulation Requiring Face Coverings in Public Spaces to Help Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Measure Would Apply in Retail Stores, Other Essential Businesses

ROCKVILLE, MD, April 7, 2020-- Councilmembers today announced their intention to introduce a new Board of Health regulation requiring employees and customers of essential businesses to wear face coverings when interacting with customers or coworkers. The regulation will be introduced and voted on at the Council’s virtual meeting on Tuesday, April 14. Councilmembers Hans Riemer and Gabe Albornoz are the lead sponsors, and Council President Sidney Katz, Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Evan Glass are cosponsors.

The regulation will take effect in two phases. Beginning April 16, 2020, essential businesses will be required to provide face coverings for employees who work outside of the employee’s residence, and employees will be required to wear masks when interacting with customers or coworkers. Beginning April 23, customers will also be required to wear face coverings when visiting essential businesses. The Council may consider amendments to require certain social distancing measures or other measures to curb the spread of the the novel coronavirus Covid-19.

“Workers at grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores and other essential businesses are putting their lives at risk to keep us all fed and cared for during this emergency,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer. “We must do everything we can to protect them. Combined with keeping our distance, staying home as much as possible, and washing our hands, wearing a mask helps protect both the wearer and those around them.”

“We have a chance to significantly reduce the spread of Covid-19 and save lives by requiring face masks in public,” said Councilmember Albornoz. “This virus is a stealthy adversary, being passed by people who have no symptoms to those around them. Covering our faces in public is just good common sense.”

County Executive Marc Elrich and Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine recently announced that County employees would be provided face coverings to wear while performing essential duties that must be done in-person. The same protection should be afforded to all essential workers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently advised “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).” See the CDC’s guidance here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html and advice on making and using cloth face coverings here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

In order to act quickly in response to an ongoing health emergency, the Council President has waived the normal public input process for this new regulation. However, the Council does seek written input, which can be provided by email at county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov or on social media using #MoCoFaceCoverings .

Release ID: 20-138
Media Contact: Ken Silverman 240-777-7930 , Joy Nurmi 240-777-7836