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Md. residents face imprisonment, fines up to $5k for not wearing face coverings

Face masks
Medical workers wear masks as they walk back to the George Washington University hospital in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 2020. |

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order Wednesday requiring all residents to wear a face masks or face coverings when they're in public places. 

Hogan's executive order, which goes into effect on Saturday, states that “a person who knowingly and willfully violates this order is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.”

Residents are required to either wear masks, scarves or bandanas that cover the nose and mouth. 

Those specifically listed in the order are “all riders and operators on any public transportation” unless it is an operator who works in a secluded compartment, and “all customers over the age of 9” at a retail establishment, and employees of any businesses still open to the public.

“Wearing a medical-grade mask satisfies any requirement … to wear a face covering, but all Marylanders are urged to reserve medical-grade masks for use by healthcare workers and first responders,” the order adds.

The order also called upon businesses to enact means to foster more social distancing among customers, including sanitizing of carts and baskets made available to patrons and making sure people in line are far apart from each other.

The latter would include designating “with signage, tape, or by other means at least six-foot spacing for persons in line” wherever “any queue is expected to form.”

The order is stated as being in effect until Maryland has rescinded its state of emergency and proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency, or “until rescinded, superseded, amended, or revised by additional orders.”

In a statement posted to his official Twitter handle, Hogan called the new order “an important step in our immediate efforts to protect public health and safety,” adding that “the wearing of masks is also something that we may all have to become more accustomed to in order to safely reopen our state.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state is considered the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, said Thursday that his stay-at-home order has been extended through May 15, at least. 

On Wednesday, he also issued a similar order as Maryland's, set to go in effect on Friday.

“Cuomo also announced the state will begin conducting antibody tests, prioritizing frontline health care workers, first responders and other essential workers, beginning this week. Using a new finger prick method the state will test up to 2,000 New Yorkers per day,” the New York governor’s office said.

“The state is also asking the FDA for expedited approval of a finger prick antibody test that could test up to 100,000 New Yorkers a day. Additionally, the state is continuing to engage with other partners including hospital labs and private companies to bring mass antibody testing to scale statewide.”

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