MARYLAND (FOX 5 DC) - Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has announced that the requirement for masks and face coverings to be worn in state buildings will end next week.
Effective Feb. 22, masks and face coverings will no longer be required for employees and visitors in all state buildings and leased space in all public or shared spaces. Masks will continue to be strongly recommended for employees and visitors who are unvaccinated.
"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 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."
Last week, Governor Larry Hogan called on the Maryland State Board of Education to rescind its school mask policy, citing the state’s health metrics and vaccine availability for school-age children.
The state board of education responded to Hogan's request on Friday, saying they will not immediately lift the mask mandate for students.
The COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped to 3.77% in the state, down 87% since last month. COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped to 751, down 78% since peaking last month.
The state is providing two hours of paid leave for any employee who receives a COVID-19 booster shot. The benefit was applied retroactively; employees who present proof of receiving a booster will receive the leave.
Booster leave is available to regular, temporary, and contractual employees. All employers are encouraged to offer paid leave for vaccinations and booster shots.