In the wake of Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement that most Maryland COVID-19 restrictions will end July 1, County Executive Jan Gardner presented a framework for the phased reopening of county government buildings on Thursday.
County employees who have not returned to their workplaces can do so beginning July 6. Masks will be required in communal areas and at meetings and other gatherings, Gardner (D) said.
The county’s various divisions won’t be cleared to offer public access, likely by appointment at first, until Aug. 2.
County buildings, including Winchester Hall, that haven’t yet returned to pre-pandemic operations will do so Sept. 1, at which point fully vaccinated county employees and members of the public won’t be required to wear masks indoors.
The County Council resumed in-person legislative sessions June 1, council Chief of Staff Ragen Cherney said. The council also held in-person budget workshops in April and two in-person rezoning workshops last September.
The council has continued to hold bimonthly workshops virtually, and members of the press are not yet permitted to attend legislative meetings in person.
County libraries are open to the public, Gardner said in an email to the News-Post, and numerous government services — including access to parks — have been open and operating throughout the pandemic.
“It’s my opinion that Frederick County has done an exceptional job of maintaining the service people need and expect on top of providing many new services that some want us to maintain,” Gardner said. “The location of where administrative employees work has not impacted public services.”
Maryland’s counties are far from homogeneous, and those neighboring Frederick County adopted a variety of reopening plans for government buildings and public-facing services.
Carroll County lifted its COVID restrictions for government buildings June 1, according to a May press release, and Montgomery County began a phased reopening of such buildings on June 7, said Barry Hudson, director of the county’s public information office.
Nearly 47 percent of Marylanders aren’t fully vaccinated, according to the state’s COVID dashboard. In Frederick County, that figure is 46 percent, compared to 49 percent in Carroll County and 41 percent in Montgomery County.
Hogan (R) announced Tuesday that on July 1 the state will lift most of the emergency restrictions and mask mandates that have spanned the duration of the pandemic.
In other county government news:
Local for-profit businesses and farms hindered by the pandemic can apply through June 25 at 3 p.m. for financial assistance through a county grant program that will distribute $2.95 million.
Eligible applications can come from commercial businesses or full-time farms located in the county, according to a Thursday news release from the county executive’s office.
Applying businesses must be open, must own or lease a commercial space in the county and must meet other eligibility requirements, including length of time in business. More information can be found at discoverfrederickmd.com/news/business-grants.
Since June 2020, the county has granted more than 2,000 grants totaling over $13.5 million, according to the release.