Larger Religious Gatherings Now Allowed Under Updated Phase 2 Guidelines

Larger religious gatherings will be allowed in Montgomery County under new guidelines amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

County Executive Marc Elrich, after consultation with County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, issued an updated executive order that clarifies Phase 2 guideline modifications. Amended Executive Order 114-20 was unanimously approved by the County Council on Tuesday and will go into effect at 5:00 p.m.

Montgomery County health officials have continuously worked with local faith community members to enhance spacing restrictions while including additional safety requirements and guidance for houses of worship.

Religious facilities of any faith can open to the general public for indoor and outdoor services under the following guidelines:

  • The total number of individuals gathering size can not exceed 40% of permitted occupancy. Occupancy numbers include faith leaders, volunteers, and congregants.
  • Seating must be marked to reflect appropriate distancing. Facilities with fixed seating or pews, every other row must remain empty and marked off to prohibit seating.
  • Individuals that are not a part of the same household must maintain six feet of social distance.

According to a press release from the county, the updated executive order also:

  • Explicitly caps indoor food service at 50 percent.
  • Changes gathering size calculations and spacing, screening, and cleaning requirements for religious facilities.
  • Modifies the definition of face-covering to remove plastic full-face shields.
  • Includes a face-covering exception for children under 18-years-old while playing sports.

County leaders continue to review and make adjustments based on data.

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About Jordan Lindsay

Jordan Lindsay is a Reporter for My MC Media. Let her help tell your story by emailing jlindsay@mymcmedia.org

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