The County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, yesterday voted unanimously to reinstate a mandate requiring all residents, regardless of vaccination status to wear masks indoors.

The vote followed recommendations from County Executive Marc Elrich and County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles to take the action once the county had become an area of “substantial transmission” of COVID-19 under the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the guidelines, “substantial” would mean 50 to 99.99 total new cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days, or 8 to 9.99 percent test positivity during the past 7 days.

According to the most recent data, the county had 57.6 cases per 100,000 residents.

The mandate will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 7.

“The delta variant is the dominant strain circulating,” said Gayles in a press release, “and even though we have a high rate of vaccination in our community, we now know that the delta variant is very easy to spread.

“To protect those who are not eligible to be vaccinated, such as children under the age of 12, we need to take every measure we can to slow down the spread of the virus. Masks are an important first line of defense to keep community transmission low,” he added.

Masks or other face coverings would not be required under certain conditions, such as:

– A disability or medical condition would make it unsafe to wear

– If it would impede communication with a person who had a hearing impairment or other disability where seeing the mouth is necessary to communicate

– If it would create a unsafe working condition

– If it would make it impossible to receive certain services, such as dental work, where access to the mouth is needed

– While eating or drinking, or

– While swimming or other activity during which would be unsafe to wear a face covering.