ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Effective Saturday, May 15, Maryland is lifting its statewide mask mandate, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday afternoon.
Hogan said Maryland's indoor mask mandate will be lifted as the state will fall in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's newly released guidance.
The only exceptions for mandatory mask-wearing will be public transportation, health care settings and schools.
“Today is the day that so many of us have been waiting for and working toward. We finally do clearly see the light at the end of that tunnel. Our long, hard-fought battle against the worst global pandemic in more than a century is finally nearing an end," Hogan said during his second COVID news briefing this week.
As of Friday, 65.4% of the state’s adult population received one dose of a vaccine. More than 2.5 million people are fully vaccinated across Maryland.
Read the newly amended order on Maryland's mask mandate below:
Earlier this week, Hogan announced the lifting of both indoor and outdoor capacity restrictions for the state effective this Saturday, May 15.
This move comes as parts of the country have started to scale back COVID-19 capacity restrictions because more people are getting vaccinated and the number of coronavirus cases has dropped.
“As a direct result of our incredibly fast pace of vaccinations and because of the subsequent declines of hospitalizations, positivity rate, transmission rates and case rates, today we are able to take additional action are return to normalcy," Hogan said.
To watch Gov. Hogan's update on mask-wearing in Maryland, click below:
Effective this Saturday, Hogan said that all restrictions will be lifted on both indoor and outdoor dining, all outdoor entertainment and sports venues, as well as on all indoor entertainment venues, conventions and other businesses.
The cruise terminal in Baltimore will also be reopened as part of this lifting of restrictions, according to Hogan.
“Maryland is vaccinating at a faster rate than the nation and faster than most other states, and we are well on our way to reaching 70% of all adults vaccinated by Memorial Day weekend,” Hogan said.
The governor previously noted that all indoor mask requirements were still in place until further notice and can be lifted when 70% of adults receive at least one dose of the vaccine around the nation. However, Friday's announcement changed this previous statement.
In Montgomery County, leaders promptly responded that the county would not fall in line with Hogan's guidance.
"As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to prioritize the guidance from our professional public health team and vaccinate our residents as quickly as possible and emerge as a stronger, healthier and more sustainable community," a joint statement from County Executive Marc Elrich and the Montgomery County Council said.
The statement went on to say that Montgomery County would continue to pursue its phased reopening approach based on vaccination percentages. The county's three-phase reopening plan calls for changes once 60% of residents have at least one vaccine dose and again when 50% of Montgomery County residents are fully vaccinated.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 596,788 residents have received at least the first vaccine dose (57%) and 469,399 people are fully vaccinated (44.7%).
"Montgomery County is on track to have 50% of the population with vaccinations complete before May 15," the joint statement said. "This means that by May 29, Montgomery County should resume normal operations across all indoor and outdoor businesses, restaurants, theatres, arts and entertainment venues and sports facilities."
The county's positivity rate is currently 1.57%, with an average case rate of four per 100,000 residents. The joint county statement said those rates were the fourth lowest in the nation for jurisdictions with more than 700,000 people.
Prince George's County, however, plans to lift all capacity restrictions for businesses on Monday, May 17.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Friday that the county will align with Gov. Larry Hogan and lift capacity and distancing restrictions for all indoor and outdoor venues starting at 5:01 p.m. on Monday. She said the decision is a result of a rapid decline in key COVID-19 metrics, as well as increasing vaccination rates in the county.
“The way we will continue to trend in the right direction is by getting more residents vaccinated," Alsobrooks said. "So I encourage every Prince Georgian who has not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to sign up and join the hundreds of thousands of Prince Georgians who are already 'proud to be protected' against COVID-19.”
COVID-19 metrics have dropped substantially over the past week, Alsobrooks said in a press release. In just five days, the county's positivity rate dropped from 4% to 3%, when previously it would take about 10 days to see a one-point decrease in that metric. In addition, the average daily case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 14.2 to 8.7 in just five days.
Face masks will still be required for all indoor venues, while on public transportation and at crowded outdoor venues, including concert venues and ticketed sporting events.