People in Frederick County may be fined up to $250 if they do not wear a mask in indoor and outdoor public places where they can’t social distance from people they do not live with, under new regulations going into effect Friday afternoon.
The first violation carries a $250 fine, the second is $375, and any subsequent offense is $500. It will be enforced by “any county division or department that has authority over the subject matter of any particular provision” of the order.
The county health board voted 7-1 Thursday to approve the mask regulation, which applies to people over age 5, and is part of an order that goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m. The finable rules also reduce capacity limits for businesses, houses of worship and social gatherings.
Religious facilities can allow 50% capacity, and other indoor and outdoor venues must be limited to 25 people or 25% of venue capacity, whichever is less. The rule applies to: bars, nightclubs, tasting rooms, breweries and distilleries, fitness centers, clubs, fairgrounds, rodeos, auction houses and social and private gatherings. Wedding venue capacity will be reduced starting Nov. 30.
The tightened restrictions were prompted by a recent uptick in cases in the county, where top health official Dr. Barbara Brookmyer said residents need “to take personal responsibility.”
“If we all wear our face coverings, stay physically distanced, and wash our hands frequently, we can help reduce the risk of our friends, family, and ourselves getting COVID-19 and ensure that our hospital has the capacity to help us all when we need it,” Dr. Brookmyer said in a Thursday press release.
Health department data shows 68 new cases were confirmed Friday, the highest number since April 24, bringing the total to 5,441 in the county of about 260,000 residents. The case positivity rate is at the 5% benchmark set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and no new deaths leaves the toll at 132.
Cases are spiking across Maryland as the state reported a record high of 1,869 new cases Friday, bringing the total to 161,769. The case positivity rate is 5.87%, and 12 additional deaths raises the total to 4,124.
Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced new restrictions including reduced 50% indoor capacity for bars and restaurants. Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties also implemented even tighter rules this week for capacity at businesses and gatherings.
Maryland law allows county officials to issue orders that are stricter than the state if they decide it is “necessary and reasonable” to save lives or prevent virus exposure.
• Emily Zantow can be reached at email@example.com.
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