MARYLAND, USA — Effective Friday at 5 p.m., face coverings will be required in public businesses across Maryland as well as outdoor areas under an expanded mandate from Gov. Larry Hogan.
Hogan announced the expansion from the first face-covering rule, issued on April 18, during a Wednesday coronavirus briefing, after Maryland reported the highest number of hospitalizations in over a month.
Hogan attributed the increasing hospitalizations to a rise in cases of those 40 and under but was quick to note that the state's positivity rate overall is still below 5%.
The effort follows a similar order from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who recently mandated that residents should be wearing masks when they exit their homes, enter restaurants and business, or are even work in an open office space.
Hogan defines a face covering as one that fully covers a person’s nose and mouth and is secured to the person’s head, but does not have to be a medical-grade mask.
"The term “Face Covering” includes, without limitation, scarves, bandanas, and plastic full-face shields," Wednesday's order reads.
Due to the rise in hospitalizations, Hogan said that Maryland is pausing the roadmap to recovery, staying in Phase 2 for the time being.
In addition to stronger mask guidelines, Hogan also advised against out of state traveling when possible and strongly urged Marylanders to avoid travel to states with a 10% positivity rate or higher.
Those states include:
- South Carolina
LaNeta Roth, the owner of an indoor mini-golf course and family entertainment center in Charles County, said she's happy with the decision.
“I’m 100% for it," Roth said. "We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and I think people really need to take it seriously.”
She said her staff has implemented rigorous safety measures since they reopened in June, including requiring customers to wear masks at all times inside.
“I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t want anyone else to get sick," Roth said. "So, we do have sanitizer stations set up at Scary Strokes. We offer gloves for people to wear, and we do require people when they come in to have their mask on.”
She hopes that taking these extra precautions will allow for her business to stay open -- because even though customers have returned, they're still making a fraction of their typical profit.
“I do understand about businesses being open though," she said. "We are a small business, and it's very hard when your business is shut down how you’re going to maintain keeping this afloat after the pandemic is over."
A gym owner in Prince George's County, Deanna Robinson, said she supports wearing masks, but she is concerned about people potentially having to wear them while working out.
“Being kind of in the health and wellness space, I’m all for doing whatever is going to help the community at large, so I’m definitely for wearing masks," Robinson said. "I will say that it definitely will pose some heavy restrictions for people in the gym.:
She said her classes at Fab Body Factory in Upper Marlboro are high-intensity interval training and would pose a safety risk for members to wear masks while working out.
The governor's order does say that there's an exception "while swimming or engaging in other physical activities where the use of a Face Covering is likely to pose a bona fide safety risk.”
Robinson said they have cut down capacity and socially distance participants by about 12 feet during classes.
"I like to think of it as a lot of the people that are expiring because of COVID have pre-existing conditions, so in the gym, we are kind of combating that by helping people lower their blood pressure, lower their cholesterol," she said. "So we are combating it from that standpoint as well, but we do want to make sure we’re doing it safely and doing it as safely as we can.”