Maryland Mask Mandates – What’s The Deal?


Oluwadamilola Afe

The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for over a year. New variants have popped up, including the Delta variant, and the Omicron variant, elongating the restrictions set in place by leaders to protect their people. These mandates range from travel restrictions, social distancing, contact tracing, and most commonly; mask mandates. Different countries, states, and establishments have different policy on when and where it is appropriate to wear a mask. In Maryland, and Prince George’s County, where do our mask mandates stand?



As residents of Maryland slowly started transitioning from a full lockdown to temporary re-openings, masks were required at every place you wanted to travel to. Why did face masks become so important during this pandemic? COVID-19 is primarily spread through sneezes, coughing, and contact, much like the popular influenza. Similar to the influenza, it appears to be mutating at high speeds, as the virus has seen many mutations in just a year, complicating the fight. Masks do not protect one from receiving the virus; rather, they are meant to slow down a potential carrier by reducing the travel distance of sneezes and coughs.

Schoolchildren are very heavily considered when revisiting COVID restrictions; especially the younger crowd. Many parents have credited mask mandates to putting a sufficient halt to surging cases within schools. As vaccination began to roll out from scientists working to combat the virus, masking policies have been revisited a few times. Some have been deeply opposed against masks, describing them as an “abuse of power” by authorities. Others have been praising the masks for allowing students to socialize normally even in the absence of social distancing, and surprised by the unexpected results of masking, such as students with disabilities being able to quickly adjust to the mandate.


Despite some of the arguments against masks, Maryland as a state has not made any move to change their mandates on masks as of now. However, different counties have implemented their own rules according to their predictions and statistics on COVID infections, as well as personal beliefs. Prince George’s County in particular, has extended their mask mandates into 2022, which requires everyone older than 2 years of age to wear a mask when outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. This is the 15th time the council has agreed to extend the COVID-19 restrictions, as the last extension was planned to end on Dec. 9, 2021. As the new Omicron variant appears, it is said to be a cause for concern, but not for panic. The county has reported seeing an uptick of coronavirus cases within the last week, possibly being the one of the catalysts behind the extension of the mandate. The new Omicron variant is also something to be weary of as well.

As we move closer and closer to the new year, state and county officials must fight harder against the new strands of the virus to ensure an eventual recovery of their people.