Updated 7:02 p.m.: Mary Anderson, a spokesperson for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), told MyMCMedia that the county’s press release is incorrect. Vibes Hookah Lounge was not closed, but was issued a $500 fine for smoking. Vibes owner Ahmed Kamel told MyMCMedia that the lounge is open for retail and to-go service. He added that he was not fined. Anderson said she has a copy of the citation that requires a fine.
Published 10:58 a.m.: Montgomery County inspectors closed three businesses over the July 4 weekend for not following COVID-19 public health measures, according to a statement from the county.
Vibes Hookah Lounge in Rockville and Cabana Hookah Lounge in Silver Spring were closed because hookah bars are not allowed to be open under Phase 2. Palisades Lounge in Silver Spring was closed for not following physical distancing measures and for a liquor violation. The restaurant lounge was visited several times by the county, according to the statement.
After visiting more than 1,900 businesses to provide education about the requirements to comply with reopening, Montgomery County inspectors visited businesses over the weekend and closed several for not complying with restrictions. Details: https://t.co/gIU98wjAtc. pic.twitter.com/Jh4PW80duD
— Montgomery County MD (@MontgomeryCoMD) July 6, 2020
The county acknowledged complaints about The Grille at Flower Hill in Gaithersburg, which has been receiving negative attention on social media after a now-deleted Facebook post from a manager or owner said that employees will not wear face masks.
“Let me be very clear… my staff will not wear face masks while working here at the Grille,” the post said.
“If that bothers you then please dine elsewhere and please try to find something more important to occupy your time such as volunteer at a nursing home or soup kitchen. Whoever you are that filed the complaint, you need to take a good look in the mirror and try to find some real meaning in your life.”
A complaint about the restaurant was received Monday, June 29, and a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) environmental health inspector visited the restaurant three days later on Thursday, July 2. The inspector gave a “verbal reminder” about public health requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Complaints about employees not wearing masks were again received over the weekend and on Monday, July 6. The restaurant’s normal operating days are Thursday-Sunday, so it will be visited by the DHHS again on Thursday, July 9 when it reopens. DHHS Spokesperson Mary Anderson said that the department did not close down the restaurant.
“We’ve had business ambassadors visit businesses to share reopening requirements, provide checklists and to answer questions and help as we can,” County Executive Marc Elrich said in the statement.
“I will reiterate what I’ve said before and about which I have been very clear: Businesses will stay open provided they follow the public health guidelines. If they choose to ignore public health guidance, we will shut them down.”
The county advises residents with concerns about businesses not following COVID-19 protocol to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 311.