Reopening guidelines are revised in Maryland, Montgomery County

Students+who+opted+to+go+in-person+eat+lunch+on+the+football+field+on+Apr.+27.+On+the+same+day%2C+the+CDC+has+updated+guidelines+stating+that+masks+aren%27t+needed+for+small+gatherings+outdoors+for+those+who+are+fully+vaccinated%2C+but+are+still+recommended+for+those+who+aren%27t+vaccinated+yet.

Photo by Joaquin Moreno

Students who opted to go in-person eat lunch on the football field on Apr. 27. On the same day, the CDC has updated guidelines stating that masks aren’t needed for small gatherings outdoors for those who are fully vaccinated, but are still recommended for those who aren’t vaccinated yet.

The long-awaited reopening that everyone has been hoping for since March of 2020 may finally be in sight.

While it isn’t the time to celebrate quite yet, COVID conditions in Maryland continue to get better. The Baltimore Sun reported that as of Apr. 26, over 2.5 million Marylanders have received their first dose of the vaccine and over 1.8 million Marylanders are fully vaccinated. They also reported that there were 557 new cases in Maryland on Apr. 26. The 7-day average of new cases continues to drop, currently sitting at 1,033 cases a day according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, in Montgomery County, 86 new cases were reported on Apr. 26, with a 7-day average of 83 cases per day, according to the New York Times. The maryland.gov website reports that as of Apr. 26, 47% of Montgomery County residents have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Junior Spencer Golub is proud of the achievements of Maryland and the United States. “I feel pretty good about reopening considering about half the population has already gotten one shot and there seems to be no indication that it’ll slow down. I think we could be normal by the end of the summer if everything goes perfectly and by 2022 if it slows down,” Golub said.

That just leaves one question: what will reopening look like?

Guidelines statewide are looking more flexible. The maryland.gov website highlights three basic policies. The first of those is that capacity limits in outdoor and indoor facilities, including restaurants, bars, and businesses, are lifted. The second one states that the state-wide mask mandate remains in effect in all public indoor facilities, and in outdoor public areas where it isn’t possible to maintain social distancing. Lastly, large venues such as sports stadiums and theaters are able to open at 50% capacity.

County-wide reopening guidelines vary by event and venue and are more in-depth and detailed. Most relevant to school seniors, Montgomery County will be allowing graduation ceremonies under select conditions that must be met. For outdoor ceremonies, capacity must be limited at 50% of the venue’s maximum capacity. For indoor ceremonies, capacity must be limited to 25% of the maximum capacity, or 250 people, whichever is smaller. Additionally, schools are required to obtain a letter of approval for their plan to demonstrate how the ceremony would meet COVID regulations.

We don’t want to rush anything since the pandemic is still a threat to those without the vaccine, but as the number of unvaccinated people goes down we need to start being a bit more aggressive in our reopening.”

— Spencer Golub

Golub sees current reopening guidelines as fitting and feels optimistic for a return to normalcy. “I think current guidelines are fine as is. Obviously, we want to reopen as soon as possible since we need to regrow our economy and a lot of the population is already fully vaccinated or is in the process of it. We don’t want to rush anything since the pandemic is still a threat to those without the vaccine, but as the number of unvaccinated people goes down we need to start being a bit more aggressive in our reopening.”