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Council approves Amended Board of Health Regulation to Continue Indoor Masking until Jan. 31 to Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 4, 2022

ROCKVILLE, Md., Jan. 4, 2022—Today the Montgomery County Council voted to approve a First Amended Board of Health Regulation to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to update indoor masking guidance in Montgomery County. The new Board of Health regulation continues indoor mask requirements at any location accessible to the public in Montgomery County until at least Jan. 31, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. In addition, the Council will meet as the Board of Health every two weeks to evaluate the public health data associated with community transmission of COVID-19 to determine if the indoor mask mandate should continue.  

The COVID-19 omicron variant has pushed Montgomery County and other areas of the country into an extended period of high COVID-19 transmission. Consequently, Acting Health Officer Dr. James Bridgers requested that the Council, sitting as the Board of Health rescind the automatic termination of the indoor mask mandate.  

"We are incredibly grateful for residents who have done everything they can to protect themselves, their family members and our community from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing," said Council President Gabe Albornoz, who also serves as chair of the Council's Health and Human Services Committee. "We are asking everyone to keep following public health practices, as we collectively deal with this latest surge of COVID-19 cases.  

"Our community has made so much progress by working together to fight COVID-19; however, in the face of the omicron variant rapidly spreading across the U.S. and in Montgomery County and case counts reaching levels we have not seen since beginning of the pandemic across Maryland, it would be irresponsible for us to lift the indoor masking requirement at this time.  

"This is a public health marathon. We were all hopeful that vaccines would allow us to sprint across the finish line and discard our masks as we begin this new year, however this insidious, ever-evolving virus has shown us that we still have some more miles to go. 

"Today's action on indoor masking is consistent with our neighboring jurisdictions of Washington, D.C., Prince George's and Howard Counties. Montgomery County's high vaccination rate and wearing masks indoors are essential tools to mitigate the impact of the virus and help our community get through this latest phase of the pandemic."  

The First Amended Board of Health Regulation to prevent the spread of COVID-19 continues the indoor masking requirements at any location accessible to the public in Montgomery County by doing the following: 

  • rescinding the provision that would automatically terminate the indoor mask mandate when 85 percent of the population becomes fully vaccinated; 
  • removing the requirement to end the indoor mask mandate when the County moves into moderate transmission; 
  • continuing the indoor mask mandate until January 31 at 11:59 p.m., when the regulation expires without any further action by the Board of Health or Montgomery County's Health Officer; 
  • requiring the Board of Health to meet every two weeks to review data on community transmission and consider whether the indoor mask mandate should continue; and 
  • eliminating the outdated language requiring the County Executive to provide status updates on the County's employee vaccination mandate. 

The amended regulation is effective on Jan. 5, 2022 at 12 a.m.  

Students are still required to wear face coverings in schools based on requirements from the Maryland State Department of Education. Moreover, face coverings are still required on public transportation as required by the Transportation Security Administration.   

You can view the Council staff report about the Board of Health regulation here. An updated copy of the regulation will be posted on the Council's website and the Council's social media accounts as soon as it is available.  Release ID: 22-002
Media Contact: Sonya Healy, 240-777-7926 , Lucia Jimenez 240-777-7832