2021 | Sports

Council approves up to 50 spectators for sports; more allowed with safety plan

Change takes effect April 2

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Montgomery County sports fans will soon be allowed to partially fill bleachers and sidelines at sporting events.

The County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, approved a change to a health regulation on Friday afternoon to allow two spectators per athlete, with a maximum of 50 spectators, starting on April 2.

Spectators will be allowed at events if:
● The site has barriers to separate spectators from athletes and coaches
● The area for the spectators is large enough for social distancing between all spectators from different households
● All spectators wear face coverings and practice social distancing of at least six feet

More than 50 spectators could be allowed if sports organizations and schools submit a reasonable COVID Protocol Plan to Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s health officer, or his designee.

Council Member Hans Riemer said during the council’s meeting on Friday that the approval is an interim step.

“I think there are some issues that we’ll need to evolve on in a couple weeks,” he said.

He added that the spectator cap might be increased later in the spring sports season.

“I think provided that our athletes continue to follow protocols and best practices and not come down with [COVID-19] cases, we should be able to have our games,” he said.

Council Member Andrew Friedson said outdoor and masked spectating by parents is a step in the right direction.

“Not all activities are equal in terms of their size, so finding a way to allow that to take place in a safe way, I think, allows for us to balance that,” he said.

Restrictions will be lifted at 5 p.m. on Friday for a different amendment to the county’s health regulation.

The changes going into effect include:
● Increasing the maximum capacity to 50% for indoor dining, retail shops, fitness centers and other businesses
● Permitting arts and entertainment facilities to open at 25% capacity, provided they do not sell or permit food for consumption in the facility

Council President Tom Hucker urged restaurant owners and diners to follow the county’s mask mandate and restrictions that are still in place.

“We all have to do our part, not only to protect our families, but to keep our entire community safe,” he said. “Cases have been on the rise since the governor relaxed restrictions statewide. We all need to do everything we can as individuals to reverse that trend.”

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