County Grants Capacity Limit Exemption To 25 Big-Box Stores

Alessia Grunberger

BETHESDA, MD — Montgomery County has cleared the way for 25 big-box stores to operate with more than 150 people at one time.

Under the county's executive order, which went into effect Dec. 15, capacity in large retail establishments is limited to one person per 200 square feet and capped at 150 people. These businesses, however, could request permission from the county to accommodate more than 150 shoppers at one time. To receive approval, establishments had to submit a business plan that detailed how they'd enforce social distancing measures and monitor the number of shoppers in the store. The deadline to apply for consideration was Dec. 21.

At a COVID-19 media briefing on Tuesday, the county's head of emergency management, Dr. Earl Stoddard, said officials received 26 applications. Only one applicant was rejected.

Stoddard said the business wasn't granted an exemption because it wanted to increase its capacity beyond what the square footage would allow.

"That would have violated the 50 percent requirement of the state, in addition to our local orders," he said. "They were left at the one (shopper) per 200-square-foot (limit) that everyone is operating at now."

Stoddard did not say which stores received county approval. But according to a list obtained by Bethesda Beat, they include:

  • Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase

  • Target in Bethesda (5700 Bou Ave.)

  • Dick's Sporting Goods in Gaithersburg

  • JCPenney in Wheaton

  • Walmart in Germantown

This article originally appeared on the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Patch