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Face Masks and Coverings Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: February 19, 2021

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What are the reasons to wear face masks and face coverings?

Face masks block the spread of larger respiratory droplets and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. By wearing a face covering, you will help to keep people healthy and safe, enable businesses to stay open and allow schools to reopen sooner.

When is a face mask or covering required?

Anne Arundel County has issued a Public Safety Order that requires face masks or coverings to be worn

  • Inside at all times when you are face to face with the public
  • In retail establishments
  • At a restaurant or bar (including outside dining) when you are not eating or drinking
  • When providing or receiving personal services at a hair salon, tattoo parlor or nail salon
  • In a business that does not serve the public, a face covering is recommended when you are not in an office alone with the door shut OR you cannot keep 6 feet away from others.
  • Outside in public spaces when you cannot keep 6 feet away from others who are not in your immediate household

As the county moves toward recovery from COVID-19, everyone needs to continue to wear face coverings. In Maryland, face coverings are mandated by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-04-15-01 and Executive Order 20-08-03-01 for all people over age 5.

What is an appropriate face covering?

Any face covering that can be safely worn over your nose, your mouth and the sides of your face. This includes cloth homemade masks, and other similar face covers. . Wear a mask that has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. For example, wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against your face. If you wear a gaiter, make sure it has two layers, or fold it to make two layers. A face shield worn alone does not completely cover the nose and mouth, and it does not qualify as a face covering. Masks with valves are also ineffective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. During a pandemic, surgical and N95 masks may be in short supply and best reserved for health care professionals.

How should I handle the face covering?

Clean your hands before you put on the face covering and after you take it off. Masks should be removed carefully, without touching the outside surface.

How should I clean a cloth face covering?

  • Change a cloth face covering after approximately eight hours of usage or if visibly worn, soiled or difficult to breathe through, whichever comes first.
  • Wash a cloth covering on a daily basis. You can include it with your regular laundry. Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the covering’s fabric.

When can I safely remove my face covering outdoors?

Only remove it when you can maintain a 6-foot distance from people who are not in your immediate household. While walking, if you come within 6 feet of others you must put on your face covering.

Should I wear a face covering when exercising in a gym or other public facility?

Within 6 feet of others, coverings should be worn when exercising, unless there are problems breathing.

Should face coverings be worn at athletic and sports activities?

Coaches, players and spectators should wear a mask until they enter the field of play and follow physical distancing guidelines (6 feet away or more) whenever possible.  In addition, coaches, players and spectators should adhere to the State Guidance on Sports Best Practices.

What are some tips for wearing coverings in hot weather?

As the weather gets hotter, wearing face masks and coverings can be slightly uncomfortable. Here are some tips to help make it easier:

  • Use a lightweight breathable fabric.
  • 100% cotton fabric works best. Take along a couple of masks in case the one you are wearing becomes wet.
  • Nylon spandex blends also work well for breathability and moisture-wicking, especially for those exercising indoors or outdoors.
  • Avoid a long time outdoors if you have breathing problems.

How can I keep my eyeglasses from fogging up when I have on my face mask?

You can eliminate glasses from fogging up by washing them with soapy water, shake off the excess and allow them to air dry. The soap leaves behind a thin film that builds a fog barrier, helping you to see better. Also, make sure your mask fits snuggly, especially at the top.

Who should not wear a face covering?

Face coverings should not be worn by children under age 2; by anyone who has a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents mask wearing; by people communicating where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication; and by people while eating or drinking at food establishments.

Customers with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask shall be provided reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Title II and III). This could include curbside delivery, personal shopping service in the store to reduce exposure, or phone shopping with delivery. For more guidance on the ADA, contact the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center at or 1-800-949-4232. Customers cannot be asked invasive questions about a disability or requested to provide medical documentation.

Employees that cannot wear a face covering due to a disability may request reasonable accommodations in accordance with the employer’s disability policies (ADA Title I). An employer’s policies may require documentation to grant reasonable accommodations.

When any person cannot wear a face covering in public, that person should stay at least 6 feet away from others, unless they live in the same household. According to the Governor’s Executive Order 20-04-15-01, “Adult customers accompanying children age two through nine shall use reasonable efforts to cause those children to wear face coverings while inside the enclosed area of any retail establishment or foodservice establishment.”

What will happen if a business or customer violates this Public Safety Order?

The order is enforced by the County Department of Health. An establishment that does not comply with the order or serves customers not wearing face coverings will be warned and then may be partially or fully shut down by the Health Officer if the business does not take corrective action. The manager of a business that fails to comply could also face a criminal charge by police that carries a maximum penalty of up to 1 year imprisonment and/or $5,000 fine.

A customer that refuses to wear a face covering can also be charged criminally with a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500, although the county does not intend to use this authority to charge individuals. Additionally, if a customer who is violating the order is requested to leave the establishment by an employee or manager and refuses to do so, they could be charged with trespassing. This is a charge that carries a maximum fine of $500 and/or up to 90 days in prison.

If I know about a violation of the Public Safety Order or have any question, whom should I contact?

Please contact the Department of Health at 410-222-7256 or

En Español – Preguntas Frecuentes Acerca de Mascarillas y Cubiertas Faciales

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