Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 11, 2021

Maryland and Hopkins announce relaxation of mask mandate in outdoor settings

By MOLLY GAHAGEN and ROMY KOO | May 2, 2021

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COURTESY OF MIN-SEO KIM

The announcement comes as over one-third of the state is vaccinated.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that masks are no longer required in most outdoor settings, effective immediately.

This change follows the announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most outdoor settings due to a low risk of virus transmission. Hogan still encourages those who are unvaccinated to continue wearing masks, but they will not be required to.

Freshman Eben Woo expressed her optimism about the governor’s announcement in an interview with The News-Letter.

“I think this change reflects the improvements that we have made and the benefits that come with being vaccinated,” she said. “Personally, I will still wear my mask when in public.”

As of May 1, 34.7% of Maryland’s population is fully vaccinated. Over 4.8 million doses have been administered with 48.9% of the state having received at least one dose.

Masks are still required at large venues, such as stadiums, on public transportation and indoors, such as privately-owned businesses.

Hogan explained that this change is due to the difficulty in distinguishing who is and is not vaccinated, which hinders enforcing different guidelines for different groups.

In an email to The News-Letter, freshman DJ Quezada argued that the relaxation of mask guidelines was premature.

“Governor Hogan is moving too quickly, as with most of his pandemic response,” he wrote. “Considering the issues that Hogan’s vaccine rollout has had since the beginning, I would have waited for greater vaccine density in the state.”

He stated that the University’s change in guidance still won’t affect his mask behavior.

Mayor Brandon Scott’s announcement on Friday aligns with Maryland’s order. Masks are no longer required outdoors in Baltimore City, with the same exceptions. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated residents are also strongly encouraged to wear masks.

Scott additionally announced an exception allowing colleges and universities in Baltimore to hold in-person commencements and graduation ceremonies. The ceremonies must be held in outdoor venues with a 25% capacity limit, and masks are mandated.

In response, the University lifted the mask mandate in outdoor spaces when 6 feet of distance is maintained. Masks are still required indoors, in University transportation and in outdoor settings for recreational purposes.

Freshman Harvey McGuinness told The News-Letter that the end of the mandate will not alter his behavior.

“I am still certainly going to wear a mask when I am outside just because that’s what I’ve become accustomed to,” he said. “That’s the responsible thing to be doing.”

Woo noted how the thought of returning to normal seems foreign.

“Thinking of an environment where we don’t have to wear masks seems so weird at the moment,” she said.

The University’s gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors will remain in place.

In a University-wide email, Stephen Gange, executive vice provost for academic affairs, Jane Schlegel, vice president and chief administrative officer, and Jonathan Links, chief risk and compliance officer, emphasized that adhering to the Hopkins Social Compact is pivotal in overcoming the pandemic.

“We remind you that we are still in the midst of an active global pandemic, and all of us must do our part to bring it to its end,” they wrote.

Additionally, Hogan announced that outdoor dining restrictions, including capacity limits and distancing requirements, are being lifted and standing service at outdoor bars and restaurants may resume. These changes went into effect yesterday.

Min-Seo Kim contributed reporting to this article.

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