Today Governor Larry Hogan said that Maryland is ready to complete Stage 1 reopening, effective Friday, May 29, at 5 pm, and that the state will enter Stage 2 next week.
In the Maryland jurisdictions that are ready to do so, restaurants can reopen on Friday for outdoor dining, following state guidance for social distancing, no more than six people per table and strict sanitization. Hogan encouraged local authorities to increase outdoor dining sp
ace, such as by closing streets to traffic, in places like Bethesda Row.
Also on Friday, in jurisdictions that are ready, youth day camps that feature low-contact sports, drive-thru theaters and outdoor pools can reopen. They must adhere to strict guidance for 25 percent capacity, social distancing and other safety measures. In addition, religious facilities may reopen but must limit attendance to no more than 50 percent of a facility's maximum capacity. Read Hogan's order here.
Next week, Maryland's Stage 2, which Hogan termed "lite stay-at-home," will go into effect. Other non-essential businesses and organizations such American Legion halls and Elks clubs can reopen.
County may begin opening early next week
In a media briefing today, County Executive Marc Elrich said a partial opening most likely will begin early next week, assuming the county's COVID-19 tracking data continue "in the right direction." A press conference is in the works for later this week.
Montgomery County is developing guidance for businesses allowed to reopen. The conditions will include mask-wearing, social distancing and cleaning. More in Bethesda Beat.
Bethesda reopening might include street closures for restaurant seating
When restaurants reopen for sit-down service in Montgomery County, some streets in Bethesda Row and Woodmont Triangle might close temporarily to add outdoor seating.
According to a county spokesman, "The Montgomery County Department of Transportation is coordinating with the Bethesda Urban Partnership for possible use of county street space to support businesses reopening in Bethesda once directives are given to gradually reopen the County." More.
County launches COVID-19 short-term rental assistance program
Montgomery County's new COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program for tenants who meet income eligibility requirements is intended to provide partial rent support to low-income county households that have experienced income loss due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
Applications will be accepted for just five days: Monday, June 1 through Friday, June 5 at 2 pm. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their application online. Those who are unable to do so can pick up a paper application now and submit the completed form and required documents at any of four Housing Opportunities Commission sites (see press release for locations).
A fact sheet and sample application form are available now in English and Spanish. The website includes details about program requirements and supporting documents needed for the application.
The COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program is funded through the federal CARES Act. The Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County (HOC) will administer the program.
Microenterprise Stabilization program
Montgomery County's new Microenterprise Stabilization program (MSP) is designed to help for-profit businesses with five or fewer employees that have experienced a loss in revenue as a result of the in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. The program also is open to businesses with no employees, including sole proprietors and independent contractors.
The maximum an approved applicant can receive is $10,000.
Montgomery County will accept applications for the program beginning Wednesday, June 10, through Tuesday, June 16. Information on the eligibility requirements and required documentation is available on the MSP web page.
The county will host daily webinars to answer questions and further explain the MSP program starting at 9 am Monday, June 1, through Saturday, June 13 (excluding Sunday, June 7). Webinar links and instructions will be available online Friday, May 29.
See the press release for details.
Helping get food to those who need it
On a typical day, more than 60,000 Montgomery County residents experience food insecurity, but due to the wide-ranging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations that provide nutritious meals and groceries to those in need have seen demand for their services increase by 50 to 300 percent or more.
We can help during this pandemic by supporting the groups feeding people who need it, through volunteer service or donations of food, money and/or gift cards.
Despite the stay-at-home order in effect, those who want to volunteer to help organizations that focus on food insecurity can do so, following the county's guidance for non-clinical volunteers, such as social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment.
Check the Montgomery County Volunteer Center website, which has information on food-security-related volunteer opportunities, including kids food sack assemblers, farmers market assistants and food drive organizers.
Live & Learn online classes in June
Live & Learn Bethesda has two dozen online classes coming up in June. (See the full list.) Here's a sampling:
Qigong/Tai-Chi & health, 11 sessions, beginning June1, $110
Mt. Fuji in Japanese history, June 3, $15
Andrew Johnson, the worst president ever? June 4, $15
Jerome Robbins and his musicals, June 8, $20
The Supreme Court and constitutional values, June 9, $15
Baroque painting, June 10, $15
Learn that app! audio and digital books, June 11, $20
Jewish text, from scroll to Codex to salvaged survivors of genocide, June 16, $20
James Angleton and the CIA's counterintelligence, June 24, $20