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Baltimore County Mask Mandate Worries Some Business Owners, Others Thankful To Keep Their Doors Open

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) -- It's the return of a familiar sight, masking back up indoors.

"I mean, we kind of saw this coming with the uptick in cases," said Michael Fuggitti, executive chef at Charles Village Pub.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski on Monday declared a local state of emergency and reinstated the county's indoor mask mandate in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the omicron variant.

"Hospitals are being completely overwhelmed at this point, hospitalizations in Baltimore county alone are up nearly 200 percent," said Olszewski.

It's the latest county to join others with similar mandates like Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, along with Baltimore City.

"Almost all of our deaths are among the unvaccinated, so this is an action that we reluctantly take but we take out of the need to keep our public safe, to keep our hospitals from being overrun," Olszewski said.

This new mandate means vaccinated or not, starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. through January 31, everyone ages 5 and up will need to mask up in indoor public places like restaurants, stores, gyms and churches.

Some local business owners say they're concerned about the move.

"Not happy at all because speaking from a business aspect, it's just not friendly for the businesses, people aren't going to go out," said Fuggitti. "We are concerned that we are going to go back to carry out."

While others say it's for the best and just thankful to keep their doors open.

"If this helps, you might as well do it. I mean it's not like we're locked inside, we can still go on with our lives," said Brian Recher, owner of The Rec Room and The Recher Theatre.

"We're not really given much of an option so we're going to do what we need to do to follow the rules and hopefully this will be a short lasted mandate and we will be back to somewhat of a normality," Fuggitti said.

Baltimore County council is expected to vote on the extension of the county's state of emergency during its meeting Monday, January 3rd.

"It's not the best thing in the world but let's just do what we need to do, make sure everybody's safe," said Recher.

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