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Governor Repeals Indoor Mask Mandate

Rachel Baye
Gov. Larry Hogan removes his mask at the start of a press conference last year.

Maryland’s statewide mask mandate, one of the last remaining statewide pandemic-related restrictions, will be lifted effective Saturday.

Masks will still be required on public transportation and in schools and healthcare settings.

During a press conference Friday evening, Gov. Larry Hogan attributed the decision to the announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday that vaccinated individuals may forgo masks in nearly all settings.

Earlier this week, Hogan said he would lift the mask mandate when at least 70% of adults in the state have had at least one dose of a vaccine, a benchmark he said he expected to hit by Memorial Day. As of Friday, 65.6% of adults statewide had received at least one dose of a vaccine. A little more than 2.5 million residents — roughly 42% — are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

“For anyone who has not yet been vaccinated, masks are still strongly recommended in most situations,” Hogan said.

However, Hogan said it would be a “logistical nightmare” to try to enforce an order that requires masks only for people who have not been vaccinated. So he decided to lift the order while continuing to advise the unvaccinated to wear masks.

“Nobody's checking vaccine ID,” he said.

Hogan also urged people to be “kind and respectful” to one another about their decisions over whether to mask up.

“Some people feel comfortable getting back to normal life right away,” he said. “For others, it may take more time before they feel safe. That's perfectly okay.”

Private businesses can still require masks. Local jurisdictions are also free to set more stringent rules.

In Baltimore City, masks will still be required, according to Stefanie Mavronis, a spokeswoman for Mayor Brandon Scott.

However, the leaders of Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties have said they will follow the state’s lead.

“If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, go get your shot,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said in a statement. “We need a summer surge in vaccinations to prevent a fall surge in cases.”

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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