2021 | Coronavirus

Council approves limits, guidance for summer camps

Officials want to look ahead at parameters for summer sports

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This story was updated at 7:48 a.m. on April 14, 2021, to add clarification to a quote from Council Member Hans Riemer.

Montgomery County summer camps can open up registration to residents of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., after the County Council unanimously approved guidance and limits.

The council on Tuesday approved several restrictions for camp operations, including requiring that participants be separated into groups of 25 for indoor activities and 50 for outdoor activities.

Other restrictions include :
● Members from a group can’t mix with members of a different group at the camp
● Each camp must have a COVID Protocol Plan approved by Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s health officer, or his designee
● The plan must include strategies for social distancing and infection-control strategies
● A participant who tests positive or who is in close contact with someone who has tested positive will be sent home or remain in quarantine
● Sports activities must follow the rules for youth sports
● A residential camp must have a cap of 25 people in a sleeping area with social distancing and infection-control strategies
● Members of each sleeping group must stay within their group for the entire camp session

Summer camps and sports could soon have additional guidance, though.

Council Member Hans Riemer said at the meeting that circumstances of the pandemic could change by the summer, which could mean allowing campers from other states and regions, as well.

Riemer said the council should revisit the guidance soon to plan for potentially allowing camps to accept residents from other areas and states in anticipation of the ability to host them.

“Is this going to be yet another summer where you have to stay at home? No, it’s not. It’s not going to be that way,” he said. “I think we need to start planning for that. The number of kids who would need to enroll in a Montgomery County summer camp [from out of state] must be so few. … The risk to the county seems almost nonexistent given where we’ll be this summer.”

Sports also need to be tackled for the summer, he said. There is planning to do for tournaments.

“I think we need to put in place something that if we have to pull it back, we have to pull it back. But let these organizations plan for a different summer,” Riemer said. “Let’s not prevent our future Olympic stars from competing this summer. We just don’t need to do that.”

Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz said the county should continue tracking numbers of cases and vaccinations for a week or two before considering additional allowances.

Council Member Nancy Navarro agreed that it is worth considering.

“Even if we do move forward with making a decision, I just want to make sure that we also have a very robust communication plan that is so clear, so that people don’t just — their expectations aren’t raised to a point that if we have to pull back, then we find ourselves in a much more difficult situation to explain and to get people to comply and things like that,” she said.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.