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Indoor mask requirement in Baltimore County as omicron cases increase rapidly

Posted at 1:12 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-27 23:21:26-05

TOWSON, MD - Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski declared a local state of emergency to expand Baltimore County's ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State of Emergency will give county leaders the ability to move faster when it comes to emergency public health measures.

"We’ve made undeniable progress in our fight against this deadly virus, but it is clear the omicron variant significantly challenges our efforts to combat the pandemic,” Olszewski said. “Renewing Baltimore County’s state of emergency ensures we have every tool in our toolbox to keep our residents safe and keep our children where they belong: inside the classroom.”

The masking requirement will be in place until January 31, 2022.

With this new state of emergency, County Executive Olszewski today also announced a new public health order requiring all individuals ages five and over to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces in Baltimore County, effective 9 a.m. Wednesday, December 29, 2021 until January 31, 2022.

Baltimore City, Howard, Prince George's, and Montgomery Counties have all done the same.

Individuals will not be required to wear a mask if:
- Eating or drinking while seated at food service establishments. Face coverings are still required when otherwise moving in or about a restaurant or bar premises.
- A face covering cannot be worn due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability.
- Wearing a face covering would subject the person to an unsafe working condition.
- Wearing a face covering would make it impossible to receive certain services, including dental care, shaving, and facial treatments.
-Swimming or engaging in other physical activities
-Operating any public transportation conveyance, provided that the person is the sole operator of the conveyance, and located in a separate compartment that is off-limits to riders.

“Government has an obligation to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our neighbors. I know firsthand that vaccines work. They help keep people out of hospitals—and keep people alive. Unfortunately, too many people have selfishly chosen to not get vaccinated” Olszewski added. “As a result, Baltimore County must now take this additional action to help limit the spread of COVID-19, reduce the burden on our healthcare system, and save lives.”

“We continue to encourage everyone to get tested if you are symptomatic or have had close contact with a confirmed case; get vaccinated if you have not already done so, and get boosted when eligible,” said Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. “Initiating this local state of emergency alongside available testing, vaccination, and boosters will go a long way toward helping to slow the spread.”

The County Executive also plans tol allocate American Rescue Plan funding and use emergency procurement authority under the declaration to secure 100,000 additional rapid at-home test kits to make available free to county residents.

The County will also set up a large-scale COVID-19 testing clinic. Details on that will be released in the next few days.