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Annapolis will end COVID-19 state of emergency on July 31, also ending planned vaccination check for council meetings

Annapolis will end its COVID-19 state of emergency on July 31, 30 days after the statewide emergency order expires, and won’t require proof of vaccination at City Council meetings.

The decision follows Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement Tuesday that Maryland would end most of its coronavirus emergency restrictions on July 1, 15 months after the COVID-19 pandemic struck the state, killing almost 9,500 people, including at least 643 from Anne Arundel County.

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Thirty days later, Annapolis’s citywide emergency order will end, said Mitchelle Stephenson, city spokesperson.

Mayor Gavin Buckley declared an emergency on March 12, 2020. After extending the emergency order several times throughout last spring and summer, the City Council passed a resolution that tied the city’s order to Hogan’s and extended Buckley’s order until 30 days after the statewide order ends.

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Earlier this month, the city announced it would reopen city buildings on July 6, including a new policy to check the vaccination cards of all who hope to attend council meetings. That will no longer be the case, Stephenson said.

“We want to make participation as convenient as possible for residents, and as the governor’s moved us beyond the state of emergency, and the City of Annapolis is moving beyond the state of emergency, we don’t think it’s a requirement,” she said.

Hogan also announced the state’s mask order — which requires face coverings indoors at schools, daycare centers, medical settings and on mass transit — will expire the same day. Hogan said businesses could still set their own mask requirements.

Stephenson said the city wouldn’t require people to wear masks in city buildings, but said unvaccinated people “should feel free to continue to wear a mask.”

Last week, the Anne Arundel County Council voted unanimously to end the county’s emergency order. County Executive Steuart Pittman signed the order meaning he no longer has the power to impose further capacity limits for restaurants, businesses and other entities in the county.

Restaurants will keep the special privileges of outdoor seating throughout the fall and can now seat more than 50% outdoors. Businesses and workplaces still have the right to enforce their own mask mandates.

Starting Aug. 1, the recovery zones across Annapolis, the outdoor spaces that have allowed businesses to operate on city property for the last year-plus, will go away when the order ends.

The city will begin accepting special event permits later this week from businesses — either individually or as a group — to reestablish the zones into the fall, Stephenson said.

For example, the businesses around Market Space, which have sought to keep the area closed to traffic after the pandemic ends, may apply for a permit to lease the city parking spaces to continue offering outdoor dining, Stephenson said.

Liquor permitting will also be changing when the emergency orders end.

Annapolis restaurants and bars that had been granted off-premise liquor sales during the pandemic will have to apply to the Annapolis Alcohol Beverage Control board after the state emergency expires on July 1 to continue those privileges, Stephenson said.

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