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Montgomery County Updates Information on Face Covering Requirement; Health Order Goes into Effect April 13

For Immediate Release: Friday, April 10, 2020

           Montgomery County officials today offered additional information on a new health order which begins Monday, April 13, requiring shoppers wear a face covering while shopping at grocery stores, pharmacies, farmers markets and big box retailers. The order is aimed at protecting shoppers and employees from the spread of COVID-19. A face covering can be a homemade cloth mask, a scarf or bandana or other means of snugly covering the mouth and nose.

            Although there is no civil or criminal penalty for shoppers, businesses have the right to turn away customers. “This is about maximizing the safety of others, and we urge residents to do this, as we continue to try to limit the spread of COVID-19,” said County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles. 

            The health order also requires businesses to establish and enforce capacity limits by allowing a smaller number of customers in a store at any given time. Businesses are required to have enough space so customers waiting in line can practice physical distancing of at least six feet.

            Businesses must provide face coverings for employees, whether the employees interact with customers or not. Employees should wear face coverings to protect themselves and customers. In addition, employees should be provided with access to clean and sanitary restrooms which are stocked with cleaning products such as soap and water and hand sanitizer.  Employees must be allowed to wash their hands every 30 minutes at a minimum.

            Other safety measures aimed at protecting workers and shoppers include implementing physical distancing measures for workers, customers and visitors. Appropriate signage must be displayed. Businesses which use shared equipment, such as baskets or hand carts, are encouraged to provide sanitation equipment, such as disinfectant wipes or alcohol swabs, for individual use. Businesses are also encouraged to install clear, physical barriers between cashiers and customers, where possible.

            Stores and markets must also comply with existing sanitation requirements. Complaints will be investigated as usual. A business is subject to a $500 fine if it does not comply with this health order and a $750 fine for repeated violations.

             For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website and follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.

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Release ID: 20-183
Media Contact: Julie Parker 2407776507