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Downtown Annapolis streets filled with music and bare-faced visitors after COVID mandates lifted

Downtown Annapolis streets filled with music and activity Saturday morning as visitors popped in and out of shops on the first day the indoor mask mandate was lifted.

Many were still putting on masks for indoor shopping, but on the busy sidewalks most let the light hit their face.

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A crowd gathered to watch The Naptown Pantheretts dance team perform on Main Street to raise money to buy new uniforms. Dancing is a great outlet for the kids, coach Kendra Adams said, who have been cooped up in quarantine.

Some of the spectators wore masks, but most didn’t opt for face coverings on the sunny 76-degree day. Gov. Larry Hogan lifted the outdoor mask mandate at the end of April, in line with CDC guidance.

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And on Friday, Hogan announced that the state’s COVID guidance would align with the CDC announcement that vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks indoors. In the announcement, the governor specified that private businesses have the right to put in place their own policies.

“Please just be kind and respectful of one another,” Hogan said Friday. “Some people feel comfortable getting back to normal life right away. For others it may take more time before they feel safe. That’s perfectly OK and we should all respect each other.”

The state of emergency is still in place, Hogan said, but there are no more restrictions. He said the CDC’s decision sped up what they were prepared to do in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

Masks are now optional at Ram’s Head Tavern on West Street for guests and employees. At the connected music venue masks are still required for employees, Director of Operations Mike Lechner said, as there is less space to spread out.

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Lechner said they were following the change in the governor’s orders and the CDC recommendations.

The CDC and the state are still requiring masks on public transit, in schools and in healthcare settings. Folks leaving on a Watermark cruise Saturday afternoon were wearing masks.

Musto, a subsidiary of Helly Hansen which opened its first U.S. store in 2020 in Annapolis, is still requiring face masks inside for the time being. Manager David Alvarez said the brand has locations in Canada where fewer people have been vaccinated, so it hasn’t made a policy change yet.

K&B True Value on Forest Drive announced on Facebook Friday evening that vaccinated employees would no longer need to wear a mask, but unvaccinated employees will need to continue to use face coverings. Customers aren’t required to wear masks.

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