County to Resume Allowing Alcohol in Some Local Parks

“Picnic in the Park” will soon be coming back to Montgomery County Parks.

Director Mike Riley announced the resumption. “I am pleased to say that we are going to be resuming the allowance of alcohol in the Picnic in the Park program thanks to a favorable alternate opinion of the county attorney… I will be releasing specifics on the results of that program very soon,” said Riley in a statement during an Oct. 12 Montgomery County Council meeting with the Montgomery County Planning Board.

Picnic in the Park was an initiative started in September 2020. It allowed park visitors to consume alcohol in nine designated parks to help support local businesses and restaurants affected by Covid-19.

During this initiative, which was in effect until the end of July, consumption of alcohol was allowed in the Parks from 11 a.m. till dusk .

Normally, alcohol is not allowed on Park property without a permit issued by the Maryland National Capital Park & Planning Commission or a Park directive. This rule follows a state law that prohibits the possession and consumption of alcohol in non-designated areas on public property.

However, when Gov. Larry Hogan issued a Covid-19 State of Emergency in March 2020, several laws such as the open-container law were suspended paving a legal pathway for Montgomery Parks to allow alcohol on its premises.

When the state of emergency was lifted this past July, enforcement of open-container laws resumed preventing Montgomery Parks from continuing the program. However, according to Associate County Attorney Kathryn Lloyd, M-NCPPC has the authority to restart its Picnic in the Park program, if the commission votes to do so.

“In order to continue the program, M-NCPPC can provide authorization for the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the park. Certain licensed establishments are then permitted to deliver alcohol with food in a limited quantity,” Lloyd wrote in her legal opinion sent to Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass on Sept. 30.

Councilmember Glass put out a tweet confirming the program’s return shortly after Riley made the announcement to the County Council.

It is currently unknown when the program will resume or what parks will be included.

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