Maryland’s statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted on Saturday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday evening.
In compliance with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, masks will still be required on public transportation and in healthcare settings or schools, Hogan said.
“Today is the day that so many of us have been waiting for and working toward,” Hogan said at the press conference. “We finally do clearly see that light at the end of the tunnel.”
Lifting the mandate applies to all Marylanders, including those who are not fully vaccinated. The latest guidance from the CDC Thursday advised people who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing a mask indoors.
Marylanders who are not fully vaccinated are still encouraged to wear a mask and receive a vaccine.
Businesses and workplaces across the state are free to implement their own masking policies without a legal mandate from the state, Hogan said. This also means businesses or workspaces can choose not to require masks in their establishments.
Hogan’s decision to lift the mask mandate coincides with his plan to end capacity restrictions in all businesses, including outdoor and indoor sports and entertainment venues, effective Saturday.
He announced earlier this week that the state would lift the indoor mask once 70 percent of Maryland adults had received at least one dose of the vaccine. As of Friday, 65.6 percent of adults in Maryland had received at least one dose.
The state’s COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people dropped by 68 percent over the past four weeks, marking the lowest level since last July, Hogan said. Hospitalizations have also dropped below 700 for the first time since November, currently hovering at 680.
“Together we summoned every ounce of our strength and every resource at our disposal to defeat this threat,” Hogan said.
Prior to Hogan’s announcement, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced on Twitter Friday afternoon that the county will move toward its third reopening phase Monday, lifting capacity and distancing restrictions for all indoor and outdoor venues.
The county’s face mask mandate is still in effect for all indoor venues, public transportation and crowded outdoor venues, including concerts or sporting events, Alsobrooks announced on Twitter before Hogan’s press conference. Future changes to mask mandates in the county will be based on key COVID-19 metrics and county vaccination rates.