Due to declining coronavirus rates in the state and consistent with federal guidelines, Marylanders are no longer required to wear face coverings when outdoors, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday.
“Effectively immediately we are lifting the outside mask mandate. Masks and face coverings are no longer required outdoors in the state of Maryland,” Hogan said at a news conference that was held on the front lawn of Government House in Annapolis. Government House is the governor’s official residence.
Hogan added: “Lifting this emergency order is in line with the new CDC advisory guidance issued yesterday regarding masking and it follows the advice of our team of public health experts as well as the advice of national health leaders.”
Hogan urged Marylanders who have not yet been vaccinated to continue to wear masks when they are in places where social distancing is not possible. Hogan emphasized that Marylanders are still required to wear masks at all “large-ticketed venues” and whenever they are at indoor venues such as businesses and restaurants and when riding public transportation.
Hogan said that effective May 1, the state will lift outdoor dining restrictions for all Maryland restaurants. Hogan stressed that indoor dining restrictions will remain in place for the immediate future and he urged Marylanders who have not yet been vaccinated to continue exercise caution when dining indoors.
Hogan clarified that local jurisdictions are free to keep outdoor mask mandates and outdoor dining restrictions in place should they choose to so do, however, the governor recommended that they follow the state’s lead and end those mandates.
Hogan reiterated that public health guidelines stipulate that outdoor activity is considerably safer than indoor activity.
“As we have stressed from the very beginning, outdoor activity is much safer than indoor activity. And as the weather gets warmer, we are encouraging Marylanders to move as much of their activity as possible to outdoors.”
Hogan emphasized that it is of critical importance that all Marylanders who have not yet been vaccinated do so as soon they are able to. And to that end, Hogan said that the state will soon eliminate the pre-registration requirement necessary to get an appointment at the state’s mass vaccination sites.
“Beginning Saturday, May 1, we are transitioning to direct scheduling for all the mass vaccination sites. At the end of the day tomorrow (Thursday), we will no longer require any pre-registration. By the end of the day Friday, everyone that has been in our system as a pre-registrant will have already been contacted for an appointment.”
There are 445,493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Wednesday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 8,521 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 3.89%, which is within CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 9.6 million COVID-19 tests.
Maryland’s health care providers have administered 4,488,901 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. That includes 2,582,101 (42.71%) first doses and 1,725,218 (28.536%) second doses. More than 1.9 million people in Maryland are fully vaccinated, which is about a third of the state’s total population.