A day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance to say that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, for the most part, do not need to wear masks either indoors or outdoors Gov. Larry Hogan followed suit and made that guidance official state policy.
Hogan made the announcement at a news conference that was held on the front lawn of Government House in Annapolis on Friday evening. The lifting of the mask mandate will take effect on Saturday-the same day that the state is scheduled to lift all capacity restrictions on entertainment venues, religious institutions, sports venues, and restaurants.
“Following the surprise announcement yesterday on the change of policy by the CDC and in consultation with our health department and our team of public health officials and medical experts, the state of Maryland will now also be lifting the mask mandate in conjunction will all the other measures,” Hogan said. “For the time being, and also following CDC guidance, public transportation, health care settings, and schools will be the only exception.”
Hogan said that even though the state is lifting the mask mandate it will ultimately be up to local jurisdictions and individual business owners as to whether the wearing of masks is still required. Hogan urged those who have not yet been fully vaccinated to err on the side of caution and continue wearing masks.
Hogan had previously said that the mask mandate would not be lifted until 70% of Marylanders had received at least one dose of the vaccine. To date, about 66% of Marylanders have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Hogan said Friday that he expects to meet the 70% threshold by Memorial Day.
Hogan noted the historic milestone that today’s announcement represents in the fight against the virus.
“Today is the day that so many of us have been waiting for and working toward. We finally do clearly see that light at end of the tunnel.”
And Hogan paid tribute to the 8,000-plus Marylanders who died from COVID-19.
“Today we also pray for all those families with an empty chair at the dinner table.”
There are 455,257 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Friday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 8,716 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 2.6%, which is the lowest level since September. Maryland has conducted more than 10 million COVID-19 tests.
Maryland’s health care providers have administered 5,449,741 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. That includes 2,947,768 (48.758%) first doses and 2,291,363 (37.901%) second doses. More than 2.5 million people in Maryland are fully vaccinated, which is about 42% of the state’s total population.