Officials in Maryland will begin enforcing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings over their noses and mouths when they enter public places such as grocery stores to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
The state edict on face masks Wednesday follows a week in which jurisdictions were implementing the recommendation piecemeal.
If you’re not sure what you should do when you leave the house, here’s a quick explainer:
When am I required to cover my nose and mouth in public?
Starting April 18, everyone must wear a face covering inside any retail establishment or when riding any form of public transportation in Maryland, according to Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order announced Wednesday.
Hogan’s order established a uniform statewide rule, replacing the patchwork of orders issued by various counties in recent days.
Anne Arundel County issued an order Tuesday requiring face coverings and enhanced social distancing measures in public places beginning Wednesday. People in Prince George’s County are required to wear masks when taking the county bus system or entering grocery stores or other large shops, following an order from County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. Those in Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., are under similar orders.
Masks or face coverings had not yet been required in Baltimore City or Baltimore, Harford or Howard counties.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young issued an executive order Wednesday encouraging “as much as possible” the use of masks and face coverings when in public, following a City Council resolution urging him to issue an order like those in some of the other counties. Young has said he was worried about some residents ability to find and afford face masks.
Do I have to wear a mask in when I’m outside or in my car?
No. Though it may be wise to have one with you in case you encounter other people.
Will I actually be fined? How much?
Anne Arundel County does not plan to fine or otherwise punish people who don’t have face coverings in public, said Elin Jones, spokeswoman for the county health department.
But stores could be fined up to $5,000 if they are caught repeatedly ignoring the social distancing rules in the county’s executive orders, she said.
Still, the county wants people to follow the orders to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Jones said.
“The orders are good for you as well as all the people around you, in your family and for the store staff, too,” she said. “It’s not just good for you, it’s good for everybody to follow these guidelines.”
What if I don’t have a medical-grade face mask?
Don’t worry. The orders do not require people to wear surgical masks or N95 respirators, both of which are in high demand at hospitals around the world due to the pandemic.
If you don’t have a face mask and aren’t sure where to get one, consider making a reusable one from household items, following the CDC’s recommendations.
The federal agency has provided three sets of directions — two of which don’t require sewing skills or supplies — for making your own face coverings, which we have reproduced below:
If you have a sewing machine ...
“Sewn cloth face covering”: The first method requires the following materials:
» A sewing machine
» Two 10″ x 6″ rectangles of cotton fabric
» Two 6” pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties)
» Needle and thread (or bobby pin)
1. Cut out two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch. Stack the two rectangles; you will sew the mask as if it were a single piece of fabric.
2. Fold over the long sides ¼ inch and hem. Then fold the double layer of fabric over ½ inch along the short sides and stitch down.
3. Run a 6-inch length of ⅛-inch wide elastic through the wider hem on each side of the mask. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle or a bobby pin to thread it through. Tie the ends tight. Don’t have elastic? Use hair ties or elastic headbands. If you have only string, you can make the ties longer and tie the mask behind your head.
4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the mask on the elastic and adjust so the mask fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping.
No sewing machine?
The following two methods don’t require a sewing machine — or any stitching at all.
“Quick-cut face covering”: For this, all you need are scissors and an old T-shirt.
1. Cut the bottom 7-8 inches of cloth from the T-shirt.
2. Then cut a 6-7-inch hole in that loop of fabric to create a mask with tie strings.
3. Place the mask over your nose and mouth, and tie the strings around the back of the neck and over the top of the head.
“Bandanna face covering”: This requires a bandanna or other cloth, scissors and a pair of rubber bands or other elastic, but it is perhaps the simplest method of protecting yourself.
1. Take a bandanna or a piece of an old T-shirt, and fold it in half.
2. Fold it again, this time into thirds, folding the top down again and the bottom up.
3. Place the rubber bands around the fabric, about 6 inches apart, on either end.
4. Fold the outsides of the fabric to the middle and tuck.
5. Place it over your nose and mouth and use the elastic bands to secure it around your ears.
Baltimore Sun Media Group contributed to this article.