County takes action against restaurants considered repeat offenders on COVID-19 violations

County takes action against restaurants considered repeat offenders on COVID-19 violations

A second shutdown in Silver Spring, a second fine in North Bethesda

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The Republic Garden in Silver Spring was closed by Montgomery County's health department for the second time this month after they say the restaurant didn't maintain social distancing

Logo from The Republic Garden's Facebook Page

Montgomery County’s health department said Monday that it has shut down a Silver Spring restaurant for a second time after not following its own plan for social distancing.

County inspectors issued a 30-day-closure order on Sunday to Republic Garden at 8402 Georgia Ave., the second time it has been directed to close for a violation, according to the department.

Inspectors visited the restaurant and saw that it didn’t maintain the minimum 6 feet of physical distancing, according to a press release.

Republic Garden representatives could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Another repeat offender was The Block, an Asian food hall in North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose development, according to the press release.

The county fined The Block $500 two weeks ago for not maintaining 6 feet of distancing, then fined the restaurant a second time, also for $500, this past weekend for the same offense.

The Block must submit a written plan to the health department explaining how it will maintain social distancing, according to the press release.

Arturo Mei, the co-owner of The Block, wrote in a text message on Monday that the violation was related to a family having a celebration. He wrote that the family had been split between two tables to maintain the proper distancing.

“But when they cut their cake and were gathered it was a violation,” he wrote.

Under Phase 2 of the county’s reopening plan, restaurants may serve customers at 50% capacity indoors. An executive order from the health department requires:
• Customers must maintain at least 6 feet of distancing while waiting to be seated
• Customers must maintain distancing of at least 6 feet when seated at a bar
• Everyone must wear face coverings
• The business must post signage with these requirements
• Any customer who disobeys the order could be refused service and might face criminal penalties.

Republic Garden was shut down the first time on July 12 for not maintaining proper social distancing, and was allowed to open if it explained in writing how it would correct the violation, said Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for the county’s health department.

Anderson said Republic Garden reopened on July 16.

“They sent us a plan. They reopened. When we went back because of additional complaints, we found they weren’t adhering to the plan to comply,” she said.

The health department said it also ordered Lone Oak Farm Brewing in Olney to stop serving food without the “proper food service facility license” in response to complaints about live music performances and large gatherings, which the executive order prohibits.

The business was asked to submit a plan to the health department for review. The county did not issue a fine.

Lancaster County Meats, a vendor within the Dutch Market in Germantown — a market that operates from Thursday to Saturday with vendors from Pennsylvania — was fined $500 and had its license suspended on July 24, the press release stated.

The violation was related to a complaint that employees were not wearing face masks, which also is mandated in the county’s order. To reopen, the market must submit a written plan to the health department on how it will correct the violation.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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