Masks are once again required inside all Maryland state offices and other buildings as the latest surge of COVID-19 cases sweeps the state, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday.
The move, which took effect immediately, means that the public will again be required to put on masks while visiting places like the Department of Motor Vehicles, state health clinics, social services offices and elsewhere. State workers also are supposed to return to wearing masks while in government buildings.
The mask mandate applies in “all public or shared spaces” within state government buildings.
“Today we are taking another series of actions to address the current surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and we will continue to take every action necessary to help our hospitals and keep people safe,” Hogan said in a Monday morning statement announcing the changes.
Hogan also announced that Maryland state workers would now be asked to adhere to the CDC’s updated quarantine and isolation guidelines for those who test positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to the virus. The updated guidelines lay out a quicker path back to work for those who never develop or only experience brief symptoms of the virus.
Employees also will be able to take two hours of paid time off to get booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccines, Hogan said, a step meant to encourage more state staffers to get the additional jab.
The state’s largest public-sector union — Council 3 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — had asked for a mask mandate inside public buildings during collective bargaining talks with the state this fall. But the union said on New Year’s Eve that the Hogan administration had rejected that request, along with other items including high-quality masks for state workers, during negotiations.
Harford County also announced a mask mandate for public buildings beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The mandate requires all county employees who interact with the public and visitors to county buildings to wear a mask. Businesses still have the discretion to decide whether or not to require workers and patrons to wear masks.