What to Know
- Montgomery County lifted its mask mandate as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
- Businesses may still choose to require masks and face coverings are required in schools.
- COVID-19 metrics are headed in the right direction but County Executive Marc Elrich urged continued caution.
Montgomery County, Maryland, lifted its indoor mask mandate starting Thursday, officials announced.
The mandate was lifted as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Businesses may still choose to require masks.
COVID-19 metrics are headed in the right direction but County Executive Marc Elrich urged continued caution.
"Covid is definitely not over, and we shouldn’t act like it is,” he said Wednesday.
County officials said earlier this week that the mask mandate would be lifted if the community transmission rate stayed down for seven consecutive days.
People will no longer be required to wear masks in public facilities, but businesses may choose to keep their own mask requirements.
Masks are still required in Montgomery County Public Schools, on their buses and are recommended outdoors for unvaccinated people, the school system said. Lifting that mandate would require a state action by the State Board of Education, a public information officer told NBC Washington.
"I personally will continue to wear a mask indoors and in crowded outdoor settings because, along with being fully vaccinated, it is the best way of reducing the risk of the transmission of COVID-19," Elrich previously said in a statement.
According to the CDC, 90.6% of eligible county residents are fully vaccinated, Elrich said.
Bryan Myers, CEO and president of solidcore, says he’s “super thrilled” that Montgomery County ended its mask mandate.
“It’s going to mean our clients can come here, workout and feel comfortable — even with the fact that they’re not wearing their mask — because of low transmission in Montgomery County,” Myers said.
He said the chain of gyms saw business decline by 10% to 15% when the indoor mask mandate was reinstated over the summer.
Montgomery County reinstated its mask mandate in August as the delta variant took hold. Since then, people have been required to wear masks inside businesses, restaurants, stores and offices, as well as any other indoor public spaces. (Read more about the current mask mandate here.)
The CDC has five levels of community transmission: high, substantial, moderate, low and very low. Substantial transmission is defined as more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents or above an 8% positive testing rate, over a 7-day period.
Montgomery County had 45.4 cases per 100,000 residents on Tuesday, according to the county's COVID data page, putting it in moderate transmission. Its 7-day test positive rate was 1.4%.