ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Anne Arundel County Council on Friday let an emergency indoor mask mandate expire.
On December 30, County Executive Steuart Pittman issued the order for 7-days.
It was up to the County Council whether or not the order would be extended. Five votes were needed, but the Council's three Republican members voted to reject the extension during an emergency hearing on Friday.
They also declined to extend the County's COVID-19 State of Emergency.
Following their vote, Councilmembers Amanda Fiedler, Jessica Haire, and Nathan Volke each issued statements.
“COVID remains a public health concern,” said Councilwoman Amanda Fiedler, “Residents have learned best practices for preventing serious illness, and hospitalizations, including medical grade masks and vaccinations. Focusing on mask mandates instead of increased testing availability and other important resources that would immediately support our healthcare system, only prolongs the mental health impacts this pandemic has created in the past 2 years.”
“I encourage those who feel safer wearing a mask to do so and for business owners to do what is best for their employees and customers. We are no longer in the beginning stages of this pandemic, our overall vaccination rate is nearly 70%, and at this point we need to believe in the residents of our County to make the best health decisions for themselves. Now is the time to focus on increased testing and support for hospital staff,” said Councilwoman Jessica Haire.
Councilman Nathan Volke said, “98.7% percent of Anne Arundel County residents over 65 years of age, the most vulnerable to the effects of Covid, have been fully or partially vaccinated. That, plus extensive voluntary mask wearing, give me great trust in our County residents to make the best health decisions for themselves, their families, and our community.”