County Indoor Mask Mandate to Expire Tonight

The county’s indoor mask mandate is set to end at 11:59 p.m. tonight, according to a weekly update from County Executive Marc Elrich.

“On Monday, Feb. 21, Montgomery County’s indoor mask mandate will end,” Elrich wrote. “County Council President Gabe Albornoz has said that proof of vaccination legislation will not be voted on at this time. As I have stated since last summer, I believe proof of vaccination could be an important tool—especially during surges like the one we seem to be coming out of. That is why, in December, I asked the Council to implement it as Omicron was surging. I do hope that, if or when another surge happens, we are all willing to consider these kinds of measures to protect the health of our residents.”

Masks will no longer be required in county government buildings, however, masks are still required to be worn on Ride On buses and other forms of public transportation, per federal mandate.

Takoma Park will maintain its mask requirement in city facilities, according to a statement posted last week on the city’s website. “Although Montgomery County’s mask mandate is set to expire on Monday, February 21, the City of Takoma Park will continue to adhere to City Manager Fox’s mask mandate in city buildings and facilities for all employees and visitors until further notice.”

County school officials have said that the mask requirement will remain in place for the time being. However, Bethesda Beat reported over the weekend that the state Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, and is expected to discuss the statewide mask mandate for schools. According to a Maryland Board of Education press release, as a transition to ultimately lifting the face covering requirement, the Board has established “off-ramps” that allow local superintendents and school boards to unilaterally lift the requirement as follows:

  1. “If at least 80 percent of the county population in the county where the schools are located is fully vaccinated, as reported by the Maryland Department of Health.”
  2. “The local superintendent may lift the face covering requirement for a school facility or facilities after a principal or designated school official verifies that 80 percent of the school staff and students in the school facility have been fully vaccinated.”
  3. “The local superintendent may lift the face covering requirement in schools if the county has sustained 14 consecutive days of moderate or low transmission rate of COVID-19 cases, as reported by the CDC.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced last week that the indoor mask mandate for state buildings will expire Tuesday, February 22. “Given the dramatic declines in our health metrics, we are now able to take another step toward normalcy in state operations,” said Governor Hogan in a press release. “In addition, we continue to offer paid leave for state employees to get their booster shots, which provide critical protection against the virus and its variants. I want to thank all of our dedicated state employees for their tireless efforts that have helped make Maryland’s COVID-19 response a national model.”

Photo: “File:Surgical face mask.jpg” by NurseTogether is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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