Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order Wednesday afternoon requiring all Marylanders to wear masks or other face coverings when inside retail establishments or when riding public transportation in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
His order will go into effect at 7 a.m. Saturday. It also directs essential businesses to put social distancing measures, such as markers directing customers where to stand at a check-out line, into place.
“While this order is an important step in our immediate efforts to protect public health and safety, the wearing of masks is also something that we may all have to become more accustomed to in order to safely reopen our state," the governor said during a news conference in Annapolis.
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young also issued a face mask order, slightly earlier than Hogan’s, asking city residents to wear masks or other face coverings outside of their homes and especially when social distancing measures are not possible.
“This is a public health crisis and we must respond in kind,” the Democrat said in a statement. “This new policy is another mitigation strategy to help continue to flatten the curve in Baltimore City.”
Everyone must take this policy seriously and follow it in the interest of the health and well-being of their families and themselves, Young said.
Unlike Hogan’s order, Young’s is effective immediately.
Thowe orders follow orders already in effect in Anne Arundel Charles, Montgomery and Prince Georges counties.
Young and his administration worked on developing the policy throughout the week. On Tuesday, the mayor said during a news conference that he was tweaking the language before releasing the order.
Not all Baltimoreans can afford or even find masks, he said on Tuesday, hence the incorporation of “other facial coverings” into the order.
The order also advises residents to wear facial coverings when visiting essential businesses such as grocery stores or farmers markets as well as when interacting with delivery workers. It further directs public and private employers to develop their own internal face mask policies.
Young’s policy will remain in effect until he lifts the citywide stay at home order or until Gov. Hogan ends the state of emergency.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said she supported Young’s order.
“This aligns with the CDC’s guidance for using face coverings to help slow the transmission of this virus,” she said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of cloth face coverings at places where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. They “slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others,” the CDC’s official guidance says.
The CDC’s website has instructions on how to make variations of cloth face coverings.
City Council President Brandon Scott introduced a resolution unanimously adopted by the rest of the council on Monday asking Young to issue such an order.
“I thank the Governor and Mayor for their quick action in implementing this recommendation, in accordance with the science,” Scott said in a statement.