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Social distancing on the dance floor? Carroll County health officer says wedding venues must follow guidelines

Add the Electric Slide and the Macarena to the list of activities Carroll County officials are concerned about as they continue to continue working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

But this isn’t “Footloose,” and dancing isn’t banned.

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It is, however, being discouraged.

At Thursday morning’s weekly meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, asked Health Officer Ed Singer about whether dancing is allowable under Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive orders after being asked by someone from his district.

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“Without getting into specifics, I got an inquiry from one of my wedding venues, asking about dancing, and that’s been an interesting topic,” Wantz said. “It’s kind of hard to social distance when you’re dancing, especially at a wedding.”

Singer conceded that there have been some issues.

“We’ve had some problems at some facilities ... where we have had essentially mosh pits of people dancing,” Singer said. “The governor’s executive order still requires social distancing and still requires masks. From the health department’s perspective, I don’t think it’s really practical that you’re going to be able to keep 6-foot social distancing on the dance floor.”

Initially, at the request of law enforcement and the county liquor board, health department guidelines had suggested that venues not allow dancing. But the health department now plans to publicly distribute a document directly addressing recommendations on dancing, something the governor’s order doesn’t mention.

“We’re highly discouraging anybody from having dancing on the dance floor, but if they feel like they can manage it, it’s the facility’s responsibility,” Singer said. "If they want to operate and allow for dancing on the dance floor, they’ve got to make sure that they’re complying with the governor’s executive order.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be their responsibility.”

Singer said it’s possible that the health department would have to issue unsafe business practices orders if they get complaints about the governor’s order not being followed.

After the discussion on dancing concluded, Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, asked about whether spectators are allowed at sporting events. Singer said it depends on who is playing.

“Guidance is different for adults vs. youth. For adult sports, there are no spectators allowed,” he said.

For youth sports, the guidance is that fans should be limited to only family members. He said the health department is responding to complaints and working with the Department of Recreation and Park in an effort to enforce guidelines.

Singer conceded it’s difficult to know exactly who is sitting on the sidelines — “How can I tell whether it’s mom and dad out there, strictly family members, or whether you’ve brought along other people?” he said — but noted that everyone has to play a role in decreasing the number of weekly community cases so that kids can get back to school, in person.

“We need people to do the right thing, and we want to try to minimize the number of people having contact with each other,” Singer said. “I understand how important [sports] is to the youth of the community, but we’ve got to work together to keep it from spreading.”

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