Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Rockville restaurants hit hard by new Montgomery County Covid-19 restrictions as cases, hospitalizations spike

Rockville restaurants already struggling through the coronavirus pandemic are facing another financial blow, as Covid-19 cases spike in Montgomery County ahead of what is expected to be a difficult winter. Many mom-and-pop restaurants, and even operators of chain businesses, have said they are struggling to turn a profit while surviving month-to-month with various government assistance programs. On Tuesday, the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved tougher Covid-19 restrictions, including the reduction of restaurant capacity to 25% effective yesterday at 5:00 PM.

The new restrictions limit gatherings to 25 people or less. 25% capacity restrictions will also apply to houses of worship, retail stores, museums and galleries, and gyms. Restaurants will now be required to maintain a record of all indoor and outdoor patrons, for at least 30 days, to assist with contact tracing. Information collected must include date, time, name of each patron and contact information.

Loss of indoor dining capacity comes just as plummeting temperatures make outdoor dining much less practical. Whether heaters and tents will in any way reduce that impact will be determined for the first time this winter. We are in uncharted waters in an industry that already has razor-thin profit margins in high-rent, high-tax, high-operating-cost, liquor-monopoly-controlled Montgomery County.

At the same time, there is no doubt the pandemic is taking a turn for the worse as winter approaches, as many had predicted. Maryland hospital beds are currently filled at a higher rate than during the summer coronavirus spike. All County hospitals were under Blue Alert Monday night, and at least one went to a full Red Alert Tuesday, forcing rerouting of emergency patients who require electrocardiogram-monitored beds. Yesterday, Covid-related hospitalizations in America reached a record high.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Maryland releases draft Covid-19 vaccination plan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) released a draft of the state's Covid-19 vaccination plan this morning. Like all states, Maryland must submit a plan like this to the federal government for how it will store, distribute and administer any future approved vaccines for the coronavirus.

The Maryland vaccination plan is split into three phases: the initial period when vaccine supply may be minimal and who should have priority to receive it must be determined, a second phase when large amounts become available and there is a more general rush to administer it to a large number of people, and a third, ongoing phase when one or more Covid-19 vaccines continue to be distributed like a flu shot in the future.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)

The Maryland Department of Health Center for Immunization (CFI) will orchestrate the operational side of implementing the plan. MDH's Office of Preparedness and Response (OP&R) will focus on planning, coordination and logistical matters. And other MDH programs and agencies such as the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and Maryland State Police will take on other roles "as the operational needs evolve," the plan draft states.

Will you, the average Montgomery County citizen, be one of the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine? No, according to the plan. In phase one, only high-risk members of the population and workers at hospitals, long term care (LTC) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are anticipated to be vaccinated. 

The plan states that two doses of the potential vaccine(s) will likely be required, with a period of three or more weeks between shots. Maryland plans to use its PrepMod and Maryland MyIR online portals to send recipients a reminder that it is time to come in for the second dose. PrepMod will also initially be the main vaccine management system, 

PrepMod is an online clinic management and appointment scheduling system. It is used by Maryland local health departments to conduct mass vaccination drives and vaccinations at school-located clinics. Maryland's ImmuNet will play a central role as the one-stop shop for health care providers to register as an official Covid-19 vaccine provider, order their vaccine supplies, track vaccine deliveries, report doses administered, and to determine scheduling of second doses.

Maryland's first priority in public messaging when a vaccine becomes available will be assuring the public that it is a safe and effective vaccine. Public communication will then emphasize vaccination of the most-vulnerable first, and then the general population.

One of the other key points covered in the report is the necessary training of providers in the handling, storage and administration of this new vaccine or vaccines. This training will have to be rapid. Among the required training efforts, Maryland plans to utilize state, federal and CDC materials and webinars to get providers up to speed quickly.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Rockville to consider revising Covid-19 face covering policy

Rockville's Mayor and Council will consider a revision to the city's Covid-19 face covering policy tonight. The proposed change would no longer allow face shields as a substitute for a mask, and also forbid the wearing of masks or face coverings that have exhalation valves or vents. 

According to a staff report, face shields are no longer considered effective enough in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and masks that have valves or vents may actually contribute to the spread of the illness. The revision would still allow face shields to be worn in lieu of a mask by by those who are hearing impaired, and by those who care for or communicate with them. Otherwise, a mask would have to be worn under the face shield.

Staff are recommending approval of the revised policy. The Mayor and Council will discuss the proposal at its virtual meeting tonight at 6:00 PM. Montgomery County adopted a similar revision to its mask policy last month.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Carmen's Italian Ice temporarily closes Rockville, Olney locations after employee tests positive for Covid-19

Two Montgomery County businesses announced they were temporarily closing yesterday due to employees testing positive for Covid-19. Carmen's Italian Ice said it would temporarily close both of its locations after one of its employees tested positive. Because some employees work at both locations, Carmen's is closing both the Rockville and Olney locations.

Patisserie Manuel also announced it would close its Westfield Montgomery Mall location until further notice, after one of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Both businesses have received positive feedback on their decisions from customers, a number of whom said they appreciated the honesty and openness about the situation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Hogan: Let's go to the movies! Elrich: Not so fast

Montgomery County won't immediately 
accept move to Stage 3 of reopening Friday

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) declared Tuesday afternoon that the state's coronavirus numbers now permit moving to Stage 3 of reopening. He said that would include movie theaters and all businesses, and would go into effect this Friday at 5:00 PM. But don't call the Moviefone guy for Tenet showtimes just yet, Kramer.
Regal Cinemas Majestic 20 in
downtown Silver Spring is still closed,
like all Maryland movie theaters
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said Hogan's announcement had "taken us by surprise." Because Hogan did not share his executive order with County officials in advance, Elrich said, it would take time to review it. "Although I want to see our community open as quickly as possible, we also must proceed with care," Elrich tweeted, adding that he would continue to rely on "data and science" in making decisions.
New movie posters outside the Regal, but
not always with the right release dates in
the tumultuous coronavirus era
Elrich said it will take at least a few days to review the order and data. He said he was troubled by Covid-19 case numbers being higher this week than last week in the county. Stay tuned for further updates between this morning and Friday.

Monday, August 17, 2020

TL Transportation to close Rockville location this fall, lay off 70 employees, filing says

TL Transportation will close its Rockville location on October 15, 2020, according to documents filed with the Maryland Department of Labor. Seventy employees will be laid off in the closure, the documents indicate.

The downturn for a last-mile delivery business is somewhat surprising, given that online shopping has been booming during the pandemic, and drivers have been highly sought after in that sector. TL Transportation is a third-party courier for, which has been one of the biggest winners in the coronavirus economy.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Montgomery County health officer rescinds order closing private schools

St. Bartholomew's Catholic School
in Bethesda
One of the most bizarre weeks in Montgomery County political history ended yesterday with Health Officer Travis Gayles rescinding his latest order closing private schools through October 1. Gayles knocked over a hornet's nest a week earlier with a similar order issued in the dark of night as the weekend began. Parents filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the order. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan rebuked County officials, and issued his own order blocking the County from declaring a blanket closure of private schools. Gayles rescinded his first order, and then issued a second one based on a different Maryland law. As the week ended, County officials ignored a tepid memo from the Hogan administration, and were moving aggressively to shutter private schools as some began to announce they would start the semester online-only.

The aggressive stance County officials had taken Thursday made their capitulation Friday appropriately bizarre, in keeping with a turbulent week that made national headlines, with Montgomery County a topic on cable news. Gayles said he decided to rescind his order after reading the memo from the Maryland Secretary of Health. But that memo was issued more than 24 hours prior to Gayles announcing he was rescinding the order.

What is clear is that virtually all of the deliberation about the whole matter has taken place behind closed doors, out of public view. If the County had no legal standing, why did it issue the order in the first place? The County has often broken the law and prevailed in court virtually every time. What did they fear would happen this time?

Many believed the move was to stanch the outflow of Montgomery County Public School students to private schools this fall. MCPS had projected it would register 2500 new students for the fall semester. Instead, only 300 had signed up by mid-summer. Parents who felt their children were ill-served by MCPS online instruction last spring sought the in-class instruction many private schools will offer this fall. Student athletes sought private schools where they could still impress college scouts, where MCPS has cancelled sports this fall. And MCPS has been in a steep decline since 2010, no longer considered a premiere school system.

It's unclear what the week-long Kabuki theater by the County accomplished, other than riling up a new group of residents into political activism. Parents may or may not remember that the County Council supported the closure of private schools when they vote in 2022. A few schools and a few students may have changed plans, but ultimately County officials lost more than they gained.

Gayles issued a new order yesterday. It does not force private schools to close, but basically says it is unsafe for them to open, and that they will operate over his objections. The order essentially gives Gayles ground to say, "I told you so," if there is an outbreak of Covid-19 at a private school this fall. However, many have pointed out that summer camps and daycare programs have been operating all summer without a reported outbreak. If the outcome is anything like the run-up, we can be sure it will be unpredictable.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Montgomery County appears to have upper hand on private schools closure order until court date

Our Lady of Good Counsel High School
Tepid state response comes amid some
private schools' decisions to accept 
online start to fall semester

Is the newest order by Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles closing private schools through October 1, 2020 legal, in light of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's own order forbidding such blanket closures of non-public schools? We likely won't even begin to know the answer to that question until it gets its first courtroom hearing a week from today. But Montgomery County's aggressive approach, and one state official's tepid response to it Thursday, appears to have given Montgomery leaders the upper hand in the interim.

A few private schools have begun switching gears amidst the impasse, announcing they will begin their fall semesters online, rather than in-class. This may demoralize some opponents of the County's order, if their students enrolled in those schools can't have in-person instruction before October anyway. Some Catholics have criticized the Archdiocese of Washington for not making a more forceful stand against the closures of their schools, while others have said Catholic leaders are most effective negotiating quietly behind the scenes.

But a response from Hogan putting the County in its place that many opponents hoped was coming from Annapolis yesterday never arrived. In its stead was a letter from Maryland Secretary of Health Robert R. Neall. Rather than threaten legal or law enforcement action against County officials for violating Hogan's express order, it simply laid out "the State of Maryland's position" on the matter. The letter reiterated Hogan's order that counties may not institute blanket closures of all private schools, but that health officers retain the authority to shut down individual schools in violation of CDC and Maryland Health Department protocols on reopening of schools. Montgomery County promptly ignored Neall's letter and proceeded forward.

Perhaps the state's low-key response is strategic ahead of the upcoming legal battle. But in the short term, it appears Hogan will not take immediate action to enforce his order. That leaves parents to continue to be the primary opposing force for at least another week. It also leaves the outcome in the hands of the judge in a courtroom, a place where Montgomery County Government almost never loses, it must be noted. If Montgomery County's order isn't legally airtight, they're sure acting like it is - and in the absence of action from Annapolis, they aim to take a knee and run out the clock.

With the overall goal being about protecting enrollment numbers at Montgomery County Public Schools amid an exodus of students as much a public health, the luxury of no strong opposition from Annapolis is a winning hand. That time ticking away, and the uncertainty, is already having an impact on some private schools' plans.

"The way forward for Good Counsel is to focus on stability," Our Lady of Good Counsel High School President Paul G. Barker said in a statement yesterday, announcing the school will begin the semester online. "We have just over a week to faculty orientation, two weeks to freshman orientation, and three weeks to the first day of classes for all. We have waited as long as we can to provide our teachers and families a clear path for the start of school."

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Montgomery County digs in to fight parents with new private schools closure order

Bullis School in Potomac
Order again prohibits
private schools from opening
through October 1

Montgomery County officials moved aggressively Wednesday to signal they will fight private school parents on the question of whether private schools will be allowed to open for in-person instruction this fall. County Health Officer Travis Gayles was heavily criticized for issuing an order late last Friday evening prohibiting private schools from opening through October 1, 2020, and then hiding from the local media until Monday. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) first criticized the County's order, and then issued his own order prohibiting any Maryland county from issuing a blanket closure of private schools. A group of private school parents then filed a lawsuit against Gayles' order. Despite this, Gayles issued a new order last evening, again blocking private schools from opening through October 1.

The new order cites a different, very broad Maryland law to justify the closures, Maryland Code Annotated Health General § 18-208. However, this law states:

a)(1) When a health officer has reason to believe that a disease that endangers public health exists within the county, the health officer shall:

(i) Report immediately to the appropriate county board of health;  and

(ii) With the approval of the board:

1. Investigate the suspected disease;  and

2. Act properly to prevent the spread of the disease.

The County board of health in our case is the County Council. Gayles may "act properly to prevent the spread of" Covid-19 "with the approval of the board." So far, the Council has not taken a formal vote to approve the closure of private schools in Montgomery County. To the extent that the Council has discussed the topic at all, most councilmembers supported Gayles' original order. Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D - District 1) has attempted to have it both ways by sending Gayles a letter with questions about his decision, but did not rake Gayles over the coals when he testified before the Council earlier this week and had the opportunity, much less openly oppose the closure order.

Similarly, the Council does not wish to accept the political responsibility for closing private schools, and are glad to cede that role to Gayles, an unelected official who does not have to face voters in the 2022 elections. There's no question they support it, however, as the Montgomery County political cartel is demanding the private school closure.

Considering that Montgomery County Government virtually never loses in any courthouse located within the borders of Maryland (even when laws or County rules have been broken, as in the Westbard case), a judge might find the Council's verbal support and lack of action against Gayles' orders to be sufficient to say Gayles is acting "with the approval of the board." How Gayles' latest order can stand in the context of Hogan's order preventing a blanket closure of private schools is the biggest legal question, it would seem. Hogan has not yet responded with any new official action since the new County order was issued Wednesday.

The October 1 date is significant from a federal funding standpoint, not a health standpoint. That the County would take such an aggressive posture to ensure a closure through October 1 merely confirms that the exodus of students from Montgomery County Public Schools to private schools is significant and intensifying.

In fact, the closure order and successive media frenzy has been great advertising for private schools, possibly ending up as a backfire for those who sought to use the ban to stop the outflow of students seeking in-person instruction and athletics. Everything from MCPS funding to teacher salaries depends upon the enrollment numbers in the public school system, understandably leading those who will wind up losing from a mass flight to private schools pounding the panic button.

There is a legitimate question as to the risk to students, teachers, parents and the community at large that private schools opening would pose during the pandemic. But the legal questions as to the authority of the health officer and governor over the matter are likely to be resolved first, in the hours, days and weeks ahead.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Hogan issues emergency order prohibiting blanket closure of private schools by Montgomery County

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has issued an emergency order prohibiting Montgomery County from closing private schools this fall. The order, which applies to all counties, states that opening and closing decisions during the pandemic are to be made by local education authorities. Hogan's order asserts that private and parochial schools have the same authority to determine their ability to open, and that Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles exceeded his authority in issuing his order late Friday evening.

"Over the last several weeks, school boards and superintendents made their own decisions about how and when to reopen public schools, after consultation with state and local health officials," Hogan wrote in a statement accompanying his emergency order. “Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines. The blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer."

After initially stating his opposition to Gayles' order over the weekend, Hogan has now taken action, entering what has become a contentious fight between private school parents and Montgomery County. The Republican governor, who has had to navigate a majority-blue state political sphere for two terms, is widely expected to be a candidate for president in 2024.

Montgomery County health officer reportedly set high bar for Covid-19 positive tests before ordering private schools closed

Holton-Arms School in Bethesda
Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles reportedly said a major decline in positive coronavirus tests would be necessary to allow private schools to open this fall, prior to releasing his controversial order prohibiting private schools from opening through October 1. A person who was on a call between Gayles and a private school advisory group earlier last week recalled Gayles seeking daily positive Covid-19 test results to be in the single digits or teens before giving private schools the green light to reopen. Based on current case trends in the county, that is unlikely to happen this fall, much less by October 1.

Many are seeking answers as to what the specific data metrics behind the private schools order were, in part to discern whether or not the standard is one that could be met by October 1, or if the County is simply seeking to stanch an outflow of students from the public school system this fall. Gayles did not make himself available to the media over the weekend after releasing his order late Friday. More than 3000 private school parents have organized to oppose Montgomery County's order in the three days since it was issued.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Montgomery County private school parents mobilize to challenge closure order

Holy Redeemer School in Kensington
Montgomery County parents of children in private schools have moved quickly this weekend to counter a Friday county government order preventing those schools from opening through October 1. As of this morning, I am aware of two legal challenges to County Health Officer Travis Gayles' order being prepared. At least one Facebook group was started, and quickly grew to over 2000 members. And an online petition has begun gathering signatures.

In addition to challenging the legal authority of the County to shutter private schools, some parents have also questioned the blanket nature of the order, rather than having the County review the specific plans of each school by set standards. For example, a member of the Holy Redeemer School advisory board noted that the school's classrooms all have exterior doors, and that the school has no buses or cafeteria, and argued that such circumstances would allow it to operate with a greater degree of safety. 

Advocates of keeping instruction online-only for now counter that it is the enclosed classroom environment that will put students, teachers and the at-risk populations they interact with outside of school in danger of contracting Covid-19. Some private school teachers had lobbied for a closure in recent weeks, saying they want the same protection that Montgomery County Public School employees are getting with the closure of public schools for the fall semester.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Montgomery County prohibits private schools from opening through October 1

Sidwell Friends Lower School in
the Edgemoor neighborhood of Bethesda
Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles issued an order prohibiting private schools in the county from opening through October 1, 2020. A statement from the County says Gayles will consider extending or terminating the order prior to October 1. Gayles said "the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers. We have seen increases in transmission rates for COVID-19 in the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in younger age groups, and this step is necessary to protect the health and safety of Montgomery County residents.”

The order came as many parents with the financial means to do so were scrambling to transfer their children out of Montgomery County Public Schools into private schools for the Fall 2020 semester. MCPS has already announced it will not offer in-class instruction, continuing an all-online instruction method begun this spring. A number of MCPS student athletes were also counting on transfers to private schools in order to play sports, so that they can be considered by colleges for scholarships.

As such transfer plans are now possibly moot, some are suggesting the County's move was political, to discourage a mass exodus from MCPS. If MCPS loses a significant number of students, it will also lose funding in the future. Some also questioned the legality of the order, calling for a legal challenge.

A few critics of President Trump cheered the move on social media, noting that the order would prevent his own son, Barron Trump, from receiving the in-classroom instruction the president has advocated for the nation. Barron Trump attends St. Andrews Episcopal School in Potomac.

Montgomery County says that any private school official who knowingly disobeys the ban on in-class instruction will face a one-year jail term, or a $5000 fine, or both.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Richard Montgomery football coach, others speak out on MCPS cancelling fall, winter sports

Montgomery County Public Schools announced Tuesday that all sports for fall and winter have been cancelled, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement was one line in a larger announcement that no on-site instruction will take place in MCPS for the fall semester. Many coaches and athletes' reactions ranged from resigned disappointment to devastation and anger.

One common theme among those opposed to cancelling sports was to question why fall and winter sports could not be either postponed or rescheduled for a different part of the school year, rather than have a lost season. Randy Thompson, head coach for the Richard Montgomery High School varsity football team, summed up these matters - and the short-shrift the sports decision was given in the MCPS statement - in one tweet.

"The announcement from MCPS to cancel fall and winter sports instead of to postpone and reevaluate, seems unjust to our student athletes, certainly given the fashion in which it passed over in a single sentence," Thompson tweeted. "Why not [reevaluate] 1 month from now, two months from now?," tweeted Quince Orchard High School head football coach John Kelley.

An online petition has been started to play fall and winter sports in the spring. At the same time, some MCPS parents expressed relief at the announcement, believing that having students gathering for practices and games would have put the larger community at risk for Covid-19 transmission.

Thompson, Albert Einstein High School football defensive coordinator Joe Bruneel, and other MCPS coaches vowed to do what they could to salvage some benefit for their student athletes this coming school year. Bruneel proposed football coaches across the system organize for a spring football season. Thompson said he would try to get his players on film to showcase their talents for colleges.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

TGI Fridays creates outdoor seating in Rockville

The TGI Fridays at 12147 Rockville Pike in the Pike Center didn't have the benefit of their own dedicated patio for outdoor dining. But they have improvised to create room by using space in the parking lot outside the restaurant. Tables with umbrellas have been set up inside of fenced-off areas.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Vibes Hookah Lounge indoor hookah shut down by MoCo in Rockville, remains open for retail sales, takeout, outdoor hookah

UPDATE - July 8, 2020 10:23 AM: Montgomery County has now acknowledged that it released false information when it incorrectly stated it had "closed" Vibes Hookah Lounge. As noted in my previous update, the business remains fully open for retail sales, takeout and outdoor patio hookah.

UPDATE - 3:44 PM: The owner of Vibes Hookah Lounge disputes Montgomery County's claim that the business was "closed" by the County. He says Vibes remains open for retail sales, takeout service, and outdoor hookah, and that the County inspector ordered that indoor hookah not be allowed during Phase 2 of reopening

Montgomery County inspectors have taken enforcement action against several businesses they say have not complied with Phase 2 reopening guidelines and social distancing requirements. Vibes Hookah Lounge at 1 Dawson Avenue in Rockville was closed down by County inspectors because hookah lounges are not currently allowed to operate under Phase 2 rules.

Cabana Hookah Lounge in Silver Spring was shut down by the County for the same reason, County officials said Monday. Additionally, the County forced The Palisades Lounge in downtown Silver Spring to close because social distancing was not being enforced, and for a liquor law violation, officials alleged.

The Grille at Flower Hill in Gaithersburg came onto County officials' radar after the owner vowed on social media not to follow the County requirement that employees wear masks. But it has not been closed down yet, as it is not reopening until Thursday, when an inspector will reportedly pay a visit.

County health officer Dr. Travis Gayles said Monday that the County has "legal authority" to close businesses that do not comply with reopening guidelines. "Businesses will stay open provided they follow the public health guidelines," County Executive Marc Elrich said yesterday. "If they choose to ignore public health guidance, we will shut them down."

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Pence visits U.S. Public Health Service headquarters in Rockville

Vice-President Mike Pence donned a mask to visit the headquarters of the U.S. Public Health Service in Rockville yesterday. He was joined by members of the Trump administration's Coronavirus Task Force, including U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, M.D., U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and Dr. Stephan Hahn of the Food and Drug Administration.

Pence said "it is a particular honor to be here at the headquarters of the United States Public Health Service," and thanked "the women and men who wear the blue uniforms across the country and have served our nation with such distinction and compassion over the past four months." He reported that 28 states currently have rising numbers of coronavirus cases or rising percentages of positive Covid-19 tests. 12 states have both, he added. And four states currently account for half of the total cases in America at the moment.

Admiral Giroir said that self-administered home nasal swab test kits will be the next leap in testing across the country. He predicted that up to 50 million tests will be available by September.

Hahn described himself as "cautiously optimistic" about the timetable for making a Covid-19 vaccine available to the public. Almost all of the speakers stressed the importance of wearing masks until such a vaccine is widely available. 

"If you want the return of college football this year, wear a face covering.  If you want a chance at prom next spring, wear a face covering," urged Dr. Adams, who couldn't resist playing to the home crowd in Rockville - at least to those who remember the pre-Big-10 days of local college basketball. "I had an interview earlier with a North Carolina radio station...if you want to see North Carolina beat Duke in person this year, wear a face covering. And I grew up in Maryland and in Indiana, so, sorry, Duke, but long as somebody beats you, I’m okay with that," he said to laughter from attendees.

Photos via Office of the Vice-President

Friday, June 19, 2020

City Perch to reopen for indoor dining at Pike & Rose today, June 19

City Perch will reopen its dining room at Pike & Rose today, June 19, 2020. They've had curbside takeout and patio service so far. Now diners who wish will be able to dine in the air-conditioned dining room once again.

Diners will be seated at least 6 feet apart, and dining room capacity cannot exceed 50% under Montgomery County Phase 2 reopening rules that begin at 5:00 PM today. Temperatures will be checked at the door, and employees will wear masks and gloves. You can use their online menu on your device, or request a single-use physical copy of the menu.

City Perch is celebrating their return with four new dishes. They are Seared Ahi Tuna, Shrimp Avocado Salad, Cavatappi Spinaci, and Spinach Quinoa Salad. Reservations can be made online through OpenTable.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Amalfi Ristorante Italiano cautious on Phase 2 Montgomery County reopening, predicts July return

Montgomery County will move into Phase 2 of its reopening from the coronavirus lockdown on Friday at 5:00 PM, which will permit indoor dining at 50% of capacity. Amalfi Ristorante Italiano won't be among the Rockville establishments taking the leap of faith, however. The owners say it's too financially risky to restock the restaurant now, given the risk of a spike in coronavirus cases in the region that could force another abrupt shutdown, and the potential reluctance of many to eat at restaurants.

They say they plan to wait for Phase 3. Amalfi estimates right now that they could reopen July 7, perhaps by then having a better gauge of just how strong the market is for dining-in, as opposed to rolling the dice beforehand.

Friday, June 12, 2020

What dining at IHOP in Rockville will be like when indoor seating resumes

The tents out in front of IHOP at the Ritchie Center on Rockville Pike are the most visible sign of coronavirus-era dining at the popular restaurant. But behind the scenes, IHOP is preparing for the green light from Montgomery County to allow dine-in service again. The County hasn't even moved to Phase 2 yet, much less the indoor dining with restrictions of Phase 3, but here's a sneak preview of what dining at IHOP will be like when it does.
Diners will be asked to wait in their cars outside to be informed that a table is ready for them. Only a limited number of diners will be allowed inside at one time, and diners with fevers or other COVID-19 symptoms will be turned away. Hand sanitizer will be available, and all high-touch surfaces will be sanitized throughout the day.
Once seated, you will order from a single-use paper menu that will be thrown away. Syrup and other condiments will be served in single-use containers. Staff will wear masks and will be subject to daily wellness and temperature checks. For now, however, takeout and curbside pickup are available.