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Howard County resumes indoor mask mandate beginning Sunday at 5 p.m. amid COVID surge

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball on Thursday signed an executive order requiring masks to be worn indoors in all businesses and facilities open to the public, as well as on public transportation in the county.

Ball’s decision came in consultation with local health and business leaders. The requirement will be effective at 5 p.m. Sunday, according to the county’s website.

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“With the rapidly multiplying number of COVID-19 cases due to the omicron and delta variants, positivity rates in double digits and increases in hospitalizations, this is a necessary step to further protect our residents,” Ball stated. “Being vaccinated, getting a booster and wearing a mask are the three best ways to protect yourself and those around you.”

Maryland’s testing positivity rate has climbed to 12.8%, and statewide hospitalizations have surpassed 1,500.

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“Masks are a simple and effective tool we can all use to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community as we continue to observe an increase in cases across Howard County,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County health officer. “The contagious nature of the omicron variant has increased the need for everyone to practice basic prevention techniques.”

Nate Hynson, owner and manager of Mutiny Pirate Bar in Elkridge, said his business is fully prepared to abide by the order.

“Our staff is understanding and as an organization we think it’s the right move,” he said. “The mask mandates have been hard on small businesses and we were glad to see it lifted but we are just as committed as beating this thing as anyone else.”

Hynson noted that as a food establishment, Mutiny Pirate Bar has an even greater responsibility than some other businesses to follow public health safety guidelines.

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“We can’t just wait until this is in the rearview mirror,” he said.

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