2021 | Coronavirus

UPDATED: What you need to know about Montgomery County’s indoor mask mandate

Masks not required in private offices unless business sets its own policy

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This story was updated at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2021, to clarify the rules on how the mask mandate applies to indoor recreational activities

Montgomery County’s indoor mask mandate took effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. The regulations, passed by the County Council on Thursday, require people to wear masks in all public spaces in the county.

But in some places, such as private offices, people aren’t always required to wear masks unless it is otherwise required by the company. Here is a breakdown of where the mandate applies.

Offices

Masks must be worn in all public areas of an office building, such as a lobby, hallway or elevator, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Mary Anderson told Bethesda Beat on Saturday. But the same isn’t true of private offices, she said.

“If all of you are within an office space and nobody from the public ever comes in, we don’t tell you to put a mask on in your offices. It’s up to your company,” she said.

If a person from outside the company walks into the office, the employee meeting them must put a mask on, Anderson said. For example, employees in a law firm wouldn’t need to wear masks if it’s only the employees in the office. “But if a client comes in for an appointment, anybody who’s interacting with that client has to have a mask on,” she said. “But then when the client leaves, if everybody there is just with the law firm, then you can take your mask off. Unless the law firm has their own mandate in place.”

If employees from different companies are socializing in an office building together, they must wear masks, Anderson said.

Government buildings

  • Masks must be worn in all Montgomery County government buildings
  • Masks must be worn in all municipal government buildings in Rockville and Gaithersburg, due to separate mandates those cities passed
  • Masks must be worn in all state buildings, such as Motor Vehicle Administration sites
  • The county’s mask mandate does not apply to federal government buildings, because those are covered by federal law, Anderson explained.

Schools

Masks must be worn in all Montgomery County Public Schools buildings. Masks also must be worn in all Montgomery College buildings.

Businesses

Masks must be worn inside businesses and restaurants. Customers do not need to wear a mask when eating or drinking, but at all other times when seated.

Public transportation

Ride On  is requiring passengers to wear masks. Metrorail and Metrobus have had the requirement in place throughout the pandemic, Anderson said.

Recreation

There are exceptions for activities, such as swimming, in which wearing a mask could create a safety risk. Businesses with questions can reached out to BizPortal@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Residential buildings

Masks must be worn in common areas of apartment and condominium buildings such as laundry rooms, fitness centers and mail rooms, Anderson said.

Other exceptions

  • Patients going to the dentist or receiving facial treatments won’t need to wear masks in the examination room.
  • Actors, singers and other performance artists won’t need to wear a mask on stage if they are at least six feet from the audience, Anderson said. The rule also applies to people giving speeches or broadcasts.
  • People don’t need to wear a mask if they must identify themselves for security purposes
  • People unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability don’t need to wear them

The county passed the mask mandate on Thursday due to the steady rise in cases over the past month, as the delta variant has spread. The county added 111 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, which is the third consecutive day more than 100 cases have been recorded.

As of Thursday, 2.3% of hospital beds in Montgomery County were occupied by COVID-19 patients, up from 1.3% a week earlier.

The mask mandate will remain in place until the county records seven consecutive days of moderate transmission, Anderson said. Moderate transmission is defined as 10 to 50 cases per 100,000 residents, or fewer than about 75 cases per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com