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Amid Skyrocketing Community Spread of COVID-19 Health Officer Further Limits Indoor and Outdoor Gathering Size; Requires Masks Outdoors at All Times

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles announced that effective 5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 24, indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and mandates that face coverings are required at all times outdoors and also indoors in public facilities. Montgomery County joins other counties in the state, such as Prince George’s and Howard County, that have reduced gatherings to 10 people or less. County officials are urging residents to stay home and limit social gatherings, including with family members, leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

The new restriction on gatherings was put in place to curtail the number of cases that come from family and other gatherings. According to state contact tracing data, gatherings are a major source of COVID-19 transmissions. The new provision does not apply to businesses, establishments and facilities that are permitted to operate as outlined in Executive Order 122-20, which permits up to 25 percent occupancy or 25 people, whichever is lower. Outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people continue to be prohibited.

“We are entering a phase of COVID-19 that is very worrisome, and we need every resident to understand what that means,” said Dr. Gayles. “It is critical that each one of us takes this directive seriously and does our part to slow the spread. Contact tracing data indicates that family and group gatherings are where a significant number of the state’s cases are occurring. It is extremely important that each of us thinks about our collective responsibility to help slow down the spread of COVID-19. The cases counts are continuing to rise at an alarming rate, and we need to take more drastic steps to reduce transmission.”

There were 213 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montgomery County as reported Nov. 23 by the Maryland Department of Health. This is an increase of more than 2,000 cases in the past week.  Montgomery County has now had more than 30,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 890 deaths.

Wearing a mask is the law in Montgomery County and throughout Maryland. Clarified in the directive is the definition of what constitutes a face covering—only wearing a plastic face shield does not satisfy the face covering mandate, nor does wearing a face covering with a valve. These examples have been shown to be ineffective at preventing the spread of the aerosol droplets that can cause COVID-19.

Marylanders can report violations by calling 833-979-2266 or by emailing prevent.covid@maryland.gov, which will be overseen by the Maryland State Police COVID-19 compliance unit. 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: 20-729
Media Contact: Barry Hudson 240-300-7348