ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday he was loosening several major COVID-19 restrictions across Maryland as metrics and data continue to show improvements. However, the governor was clear about one rule that isn’t changing: Maryland's mask mandate.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Hogan said the statewide mask mandate “remains in full force and effect.” The governor's current executive order states masks are required at public indoor facilities and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible -- which includes grocery stores, fitness centers and other public areas of businesses.
Masks are also required on public transportation, Hogan said.
Hogan also announced Tuesday that all capacity limits can be lifted on many major businesses in the state including dining, stores and religious facilities beginning Friday at 5 p.m. It is up to individual counties to decide whether they will choose to follow the governor's guidance on lifting restrictions; notably, Montgomery and Prince George's counties have in the past chosen to wait before implementing the governor's guidance.
Businesses have not operated with this level of freedom since March 2020, when the governor announced the shutdown of restaurants and retail stores, and eventually instituted a stay-at-home order.
"All of our vaccine progress along with all of our sustained positive improvements have enabled us to continue to follow the science and to be able today to take significant steps to further ease more of the mitigation measures currently in place," Hogan said.
Capacity limits will be lifted on:
- Indoor/outdoor dining
- Retail stores
- Religious facilities
- Fitness centers
- Personal services
- Bingo halls
- Bowling alleys
- Skating rinks
Restaurants and bars will still be limited to seated and distanced service only, and masks and social distancing will still be required in all public spaces.