Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has lifted statewide mask orders — including indoors in most instances.
The governor pointed to U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s new guidance last Friday saying those who have been fully vaccinated do not have to wear masks outdoors and indoors in many situations.
The lifting of the state orders apply to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
Maryland officials will not be checking for vaccination cards or status when they encounter the unmasked.
That might not sit well with everyone. But it is the only path — legally and logistically — right now to lift mask mandates as COVID-19 numbers improve.
There will be pushes for some kind of vaccination checks or passports at stores, workplaces, sports venues, airlines and public places. These are on top of the vaccination requirements being seen at many universities and even some workplaces. Part of the vaccine pushes center on slowing demand for shots and some continued hesitancy and resistance.
The idea of easing mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions for the vaccinated (but not the unvaccinated) runs into all kinds of legal and logistical problems.
Who will ask the unmasked if they have been vaccinated?
Who will enforce it?
That kind of enforcement is a big burden on police and health departments and creates plenty of questions about civil liberties.
It is an even bigger challenge for businesses, event venues and workplaces.
Asking a customer, employee or anyone else about their vaccination status can open a can of very problematic legal worms.
Those types of questions — especially in certain setting and situations — can result in discrimination and harassment claims as well as violations of health privacy laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The ADA offers medical privacy protections as well religious and health-based accommodations for those not getting vaccines.
Masks are still required in health care and educational settings in Maryland as well as on public transportation.
Most of us are welcoming easing of the government mask orders. Others with concerns about the virus can continue to wear their masks. And if they want to they absolutely should.
Businesses still have the ability to require masks in many instances.
For now, the lifting of the government mask orders in Maryland applies to everyone — COVID-19 shot or not.
We will be watching to see how the debate progresses and what proposals are floated — including ones that create problems with privacy and civil liberties.