As the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continues to drop in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan said he is lifting the mask requirement for state buildings.
The governor announced the requirement for masks and face coverings in all state buildings will be lifted Feb. 22.
“Given the dramatic declines in our health metrics, we are now able to take another step toward normalcy in state operations,” Hogan said in the release. “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.”
Effective Tuesday, according to the release, people entering state buildings and all employees will no longer be required to wear masks or face coverings. The new guidance extends to leased spaces in all public and shared spaces.
However, masks, the release reads, will be strongly recommended for those visitors and employees are who are not fully vaccinated. The Department of Budget and Management will offer further guidance, which will be implemented by the Department of General Services.
Hogan’s announcement comes days after he penned a letter to the Department of Education urging the school mask policy be lifted.
As of Tuesday morning, there were 443 new cases reported. The state’s daily positivity rate has shrunk to 3.78%, and 13 new deaths were reported. There have been 13,679 confirmed deaths reported, and there are currently 715 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, a drop of 36 patients from Monday.
According to the release, the COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped 87% since peaking in January and hospitalizations are down 78% during the same timeframe.
Two hours of paid leave, according to the release, will be granted by the state for any employee to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, which was applied retroactively. Those employees who present proof of getting their booster shot will receive the time off, and is available to regular, temporary, and contract employees.
This article was originally posted on Hogan to lift mask mandate in state buildings