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Baltimore lifts outdoor masking restriction, following guidance of the state

Baltimore residents can stop wearing face masks while outdoors unless they are attending events at outdoor venues, city officials announced Friday.

The new order, issued by City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa and effective immediately, brings the city in line with loosened statewide restrictions announced by Gov. Larry Hogan earlier this week. Hogan issued his order Wednesday after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance saying fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks in most outdoor settings

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Outdoor venues where masks still will be required in Baltimore include concerts, sporting events and other live performances held outdoors.

“The CDC’s latest guidance demonstrates the clear benefits of being vaccinated for Baltimore City residents,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in a news release. “By getting vaccinated, we can start returning to prepandemic activities, beginning with being outside without a face covering.”

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Like the state order, Baltimore’s order does not delineate between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not. However, unvaccinated people are “strongly encouraged” to wear a face covering when outdoors, the city news release said.

Masks also remain required for everyone — vaccinated or not — when indoors and on public transportation in the city.

“Until we reach herd immunity, we still urge residents to be mindful of how their activities may unintentionally contribute to disease spread,” Dzirasa said in the news release. “Although we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, today’s announcement marks the beginning of a new chapter in Baltimore’s response, and increasing our vaccination rate will be the key to lifting further restrictions.”

As of Friday, 27% of Baltimore residents were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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The state’s prior masking order required masks for anyone older than 5 outdoors when maintaining physical distancing was not possible. Baltimore previously had a stricter rule that required masks outdoors at all times.

Hogan said Wednesday that local governments still could set stricter requirements for masking, but warned he “wouldn’t advise that, because this is the advice of the CDC and the state.”

Additionally, Scott announced Friday that an exception will be made to the city’s executive order related to gatherings during the pandemic to allow city colleges and universities to hold in-person graduation ceremonies. The city will allow ceremonies in outdoor facilities with 25% capacity limits. Attendees must wear masks, sign in for contacting tracing purposes and maintain social distancing between members of different households.

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