ANNAPOLIS, MD—With the state’s health metrics continuing to substantially decline, Governor Larry Hogan today announced that the requirement for masks and face coverings to be worn in state buildings will end next week.
In addition, the governor has called on the State Board of Education to rescind its school mask policy and encourages parents who want to weigh in on the issue to contact the Board prior to its next meeting.
“Given the dramatic declines in our health metrics, we are now able to take another step toward normalcy in-state operations,” said Governor Hogan. “In addition, we continue to offer paid leave for state employees to get their booster shots, which provide critical protection against the virus and its variants. I want to thank all of our dedicated state employees for their tireless efforts that have helped make Maryland’s COVID-19 response a national model.”
COVID-19 Positivity Rate Drops Below 4%. The substantial declines in the state’s key health metrics continue as the COVID-19 positivity rate has dropped to 3.77%—down 87% since peaking last month. COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped to 751—down 78% since peaking last month. Maryland continues to report the lowest COVID-19 case rate of any state. Official data is available at coronavirus.maryland.gov.
Updated Masking Guidance for State Buildings. Effective Feb. 22, masks and face coverings will no longer be required for employees and visitors in all state buildings and leased space in all public or shared spaces. Masks will continue to be strongly recommended for employees and visitors who are unvaccinated. The updated guidance will be issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and implemented by the Department of General Services.
Paid Leave For Booster Shots. The state is providing two hours of paid leave for any employee who receives a COVID-19 booster shot. The benefit was applied retroactively; employees who present proof of receiving a booster will receive the leave. Booster leave is available to regular, temporary, and contractual employees. All employers are encouraged to offer paid leave for vaccinations and booster shots.
Last month, the Maryland Department of Health and DBM issued updated guidance to state agencies and offices regarding quarantine protocols for state employees.