With record low coronavirus positivity rates and more than 70 percent of Marylanders at least partially vaccinated, the 15-month pandemic state of emergency will come to an end on July 1, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.
“Today I am announcing the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency in Maryland. On Thursday, July 1, any and all emergency restrictions and mandates of any kind will end,” Hogan said at an afternoon news conference at the State House in Annapolis.
He added: “Masks or face coverings will not be required in any settings, anywhere, including schools, camps, and childcare facilities. Businesses and other workplaces are obviously still able to set their own policies and we will support their ability to do so. But there will not be any legal mandate from the state for wearing masks at any location anywhere in the state.”
A 45-day “grace period” in which regulations are gradually eased will begin on July 1 and conclude on Aug. 15, Hogan said.
The grace period is designed to give Marylanders more time to perform routine tasks that they could not during the pandemic such as renewing a driver’s license. It also allows for more time to come up with the money to pay rent or a mortgage as the governor said the eviction moratorium will continue through the end of the grace period.
Hogan urged Marylanders to remain vigilant as the virus and its variants are still present.
“While the end of the state of emergency is an important step in our recovery from COVID-19, it does not does mean that this virus and the variants no longer pose any threat. If you have been vaccinated you are safe. But those who have not gotten vaccinated will continue to be at risk.”
The Delta variant, which originated in India and has wreaked havoc on that country’s health care system-could very well pose the biggest threat to the recovery as it is rapidly spreading throughout the globe.
A recent Delta surge in the U.K. forced that country to delay lifting pandemic restrictions. The variant is also present in the U.S. in a small percentage of cases but it has the potential to become the dominant strain of the virus, according to health officials.
While Delta is believed to be resistant to some of the COVID vaccines, those who received two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are believed to have some degree of protection against the variant.
There are 461,392 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 9,472 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 0.82%, which is a record low. Maryland has conducted more than 10.6 million COVID-19 tests.
Maryland’s health care providers have administered 6,528,935 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. That includes 3,349,479 (55.403%) first doses and 2,930,647 (48.475%) second doses. Nearly 3.2 million people in Maryland are fully vaccinated, which is about half of the state’s total population.