Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that all business restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, except indoor mask-wearing, will cease starting on Saturday.
That means there will be no restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining or ticketed events at indoor or outdoor venues, the governor said. Local jurisdictions can still choose to keep some restrictions in place, but County Executive Jan Gardner said Wednesday night that the county will comply with Hogan’s order.
“Effectively, as of Saturday, every business in Maryland will be able to open at 100 percent with no restrictions,” Hogan (R) said.
The governor said the indoor mask mandate will be lifted as soon as 70 percent of Maryland adults receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. State data shows more than 65 percent meet that mark.
Hogan called on those who haven’t gotten the vaccine to do so in order to help end the pandemic.
“We truly are closer than ever to getting back to a sense of normalcy,” he said. “But once again, the fastest way to get rid of our damn masks and to put this pandemic behind us once and for all is for every single eligible Marylander to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
Hogan knows certain businesses large and small might still enforce restrictions or their own rules to curb the spread of the coronavirus. That includes Camden Yards and other large venues that have been severely impacted by pandemic restrictions.
Gardner (D) said despite the lifting of restrictions, coronavirus hospitalizations remain around 20 people each day, with several people in the intensive care unit.
She added Hogan’s order includes recommendations to leave tables 6 feet apart for indoor dining.
“We are in a transition period, and we still have many people at risk who are not vaccinated,” Gardner wrote in an email. “People should continue to take precautions and wear their masks indoors at all public places. But most important, people need to get vaccinated.”
Dr. Jinlene Chan, deputy secretary of public health services, noted the Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12-15.
Chan said she understands parents need to decide what is best for their kids but added she’s also in that situation.
“I have to say, I am not just a physician. I am also a parent,” Chan said. “And my son falls into this age category. And so we have been having conversations with him about getting vaccinated and what the importance of it is, and what to expect and why it is important for him so that he can get back to some of the activities that he missed out on last year.”
Gardner said health metrics are improving because of the state and county’s vaccination efforts.
“The progress made has been directly linked to the vaccination effort,” Gardner wrote. “And we will be able to return to more normal activities if more people get vaccinated.”