The countdown is on -- at 11:59 Monday night, the mask mandate in Montgomery County is set to expire.
This is a county that has kept masks around indoors more than any other region in the D.C. area. But the region is finally seeing very low COVID-19 numbers and county leaders believe the time is right to finally allow people to breathe freely inside most public places.
No more masks inside stores, restaurants, gyms and places of worship. This however does not apply to schools.
Montgomery County Public Schools will continue to require students and employees to wear masks indoors.
“Once that mask mandate is alleviated, we will see what the decisions are with regards to other functions in the county such as our schools. But we feel comfortable at this point moving forward with the date we had set forward,” said county council president, Gabe Albornoz.
Gov. Larry Hogan recently sent the State Board of Education a letter urging it to lift its mandate in public schools. The county is still reviewing and discussing the mask policy for county buildings, such as libraries and recreation centers.
The Maryland State Board of Education currently has a statewide mandate for indoor mask use in public schools across the state.
The county’s positivity rate has dropped to 3%, a month again a surge spikes it to over 22%.
Hogan also announced last week that the requirement for face coverings in state buildings will end on Feb. 22. Face masks will no longer be required for employees and visitors in all state buildings and leased space in all public or shared spaces. For those who are unvaccinated, masks are recommended.
“The fact that we have such high vaccination rates in our community. And there are many people that will continue to wear masks and of course, our local businesses will continue to have the opportunity to set for their own policy and require them as they see needed," said Albornoz.
The State Board of Education is set to meet Tuesday to discuss indoor masks in schools. If lifted statewide, local districts still can choose to have their own mask mandate.