Montgomery County officials lift some restrictions amidst the reopening of private schools

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County is allowing more businesses to reopen and more activities to resume, all while continuing the conversation around sending private school students back to school in just a matter of weeks.

A special meeting was held with county officials and lawmakers Monday morning to discuss amending the county’s executive order and change Phase Two restrictions.

With unanimous approval by the county council, some restrictions lifted in Montgomery County as of 5 p.m. on Monday. Bowling alleys are now allowed to reopen with capacity limits after months of back and forth with business owners.

As for outdoor activities, soccer has been re-classified as a medium risk activity. Local leaders say opportunities to get moving outside are more important than ever.

“Recreational activities that are safe, outdoors, and provide social distancing opportunities are critically important for students to be able to participate in some activity, to be able to cope with and process everything that’s going on right now,” said county councilmember Gabe Albornoz.

Most kids in Montgomery County won’t be returning to classrooms in a few weeks, though some students who attend non-public schools will. After the state asked the county to reverse it’s decision to close non public schools, the state said it would issue guidelines for a safe return to school. So far, no such guidelines have been issued.

“I asked in early August and other health officers around the state have asked repeatedly for those guidelines from the State Department of Health and the Governor’s office. As of August 24th, we’ve not received those guidelines,” said the county’s chief health officer, Dr. Travis Gayles.

“We don’t know what we’re going to able to be permitted to enforce at this point. We’re hoping the guidelines will help us to better understand as well,” said Dr. Earl Stoddard of the county’s Department of Emergency Management.

Local lawmakers are also frustrated by what they call a lack of communication from the state.

“After all the action that was taken and the outrage by the Governor, and the back and forth of the orders, and now it’s rescinded. You got what you wanted, and now there’s no guidance? I’m extremely frustrated with that,” said councilmember Will Jawando.

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