BETHESDA, Md. — New mask mandates are kicking in this weekend in areas across the D.C. area.
One of them is in Montgomery County, where COVID case levels this week rose into the "substantial transmission" category. That means the county recorded more than 50 cases per 100,000 people.
The new rule, which applies to people over the age of two regardless of vaccination status, officially went into place at 12:01 AM Saturday morning. County Executive Marc Elrich called it a preventative measure.
"Everything we're doing is to prevent us from shutting down things, it's not leading to shutting down things," he said.
Public health officials say indoor mask-wearing, even if you're vaccinated, helps reduce COVID exposure and protect those who have received the shot.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan emphasized the vaccine's importance at an event earlier this week.
"Nearly every single person hospitalized or dying with COVID-19 in Maryland right now is unvaccinated," he said.
Montgomery’s policy does allow people to take their masks off inside in some limited circumstances, like while eating. You can read the full policy here.
The general rule is to keep it on.
Longtime Tastee Diner cook Allen Snowden, who says he is vaccinated, feels like the rule hassles him for the choices of others.
"If you don't want to get the shot, you get sick, that's on you," he said. "It shouldn't be my problem and the [problem of the] millions of other people that went ahead and got the shot and said 'hey, we're safe.'"
Other people see it as a small sacrifice to hopefully avoid another surge.
"I am all for, you know, the guidance from the CDC and the county's mandate," said Nick Mazzeo. "Everything to keep us safe I think is really important."
Sivon Hakimovichi, a restaurant manager in D.C., agreed. An indoor mask mandate has been in place there since July 31.
"I think that it's great D.C. is doing this as more of a preemptive measure instead of waiting until things get really really bad again," she said.
Prince George's will join Montgomery on Sunday when its indoor mask policy officially kicks in at 5 p.m. Its policy applies to everyone over the age of five and like Montgomery, applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.