Montgomery Co. react to mask mandate’s businesses end

Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, allowed a countywide indoor mask mandate to expire Tuesday morning as the COVID-19 omicron surge continued to weaken across the region.

Officials in Montgomery County, Maryland, allowed a countywide indoor mask mandate to expire Tuesday morning, as the COVID-19 omicron surge continued to weaken across the region.

The mandate applied to businesses including stores, restaurants and gyms, but some business owners said they would continue requiring masks, at least for now.



“I just think, culturally speaking, our clients are going to feel more comfortable,” said Angela Walker, owner of N Natural Hair Studio in Silver Spring.

Walker said she would probably keep a mask mandate at her business for another month or so.

“I understand that the change is happening and that’s wonderful, but we are definitely going to be slow-movers,” Walker said. “If something comes up and they’re like ‘masks are back on’ then we need to change back. Let’s just make sure this is here to stay before we make any sudden movements.”

Medium Rare, a restaurant with a location in Bethesda, made masks optional Tuesday morning.

“Whatever the health officials say to do we’re going to do and follow and hope they’re right,” said co-founder Mark Boucher.

Boucher acknowledged that forcing everyone to wear masks has been a burden.

“It’s been hard for us,” Boucher said. “People in the hospitality business have been put in the position of ‘enforcers’ and we’re supposed to be in the happiness business.”

Julie Verratti, founder of Denizens Brewing Company in Silver Spring, said she was making masks optional but noted that she wouldn’t be surprised if the rules changed again in the future.

“Having these different jurisdictions and different rules has been part of the stress and struggle of owning a small business,” Verratti said. “It would be nice if there was more consistency.”

The mask mandate has largely been in place since early August — except for a few weeks last fall.

Even though the mandate for businesses was allowed to expire, masks in public school facilities will still be required, according to Montgomery County Public Schools.

“No decisions have been made just yet regarding changes to the mask requirement in all MCPS facilities,” said James D’Andrea, the school system’s chief of staff.

The county’s Board of Education is set to take up the school system’s mask policy at a meeting Thursday.


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