Maryland,State,House,,In,Annapolis,,At,Dusk.

The Maryland State House at dusk in Annapolis.

(The Center Square) – Employees and visitors of state building and facilities in Maryland are now required to wear masks, Gov. Larry Hogan said.

In a news release, the governor said that in an effort to stem the current surge of COVID-19 in the state and prevent hospitalizations, he is mandating the masking measure.

Hogan also announced the state has reached union contract agreements with the Maryland Professional Employees Council Local 6197 and AFSCME Maryland Council 3.

“Today we are taking another series of actions to address the current surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and we will continue to take every action necessary to help our hospitals and keep people safe,” Hogan said in the release. “In addition, we have successfully completed historic agreements with all of the unions, and I want to thank all hardworking state employees for their dedicated service.”

According to the release, the state’s Department of Health and Department of Budget and Management has offered new guidance to state agencies and offices applying the new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for quarantine. The measure will allow for agency leadership to implement telework and hybrid work schedules to eligible employees in an effort to maintain services to residents.

The masking requirement for state buildings and facilities went into effect Monday. Masks are required for all employees and visitors, including leased spaces in all public or shared spaces, according to the release.

The union agreements, according to the release, will impact 23,000 state employees. The agreements provide a $1,000 bonus, a 1% cost of living adjustment, and a make-up increment of 2% for employees who didn’t receive an increment in the previous fiscal year.

The agreements also call for a 3% cost of living adjustment on July 1, 2022, a regular increment of 2% in FY23, and a 2% cost of living adjustment on July 1, 2023.

In addition, the state is offering a paid 2-hour leave for those who receive a COVID-19 booster shot, and is retroactive to employees who can provide proof they are boosted. Meanwhile, Hogan is encouraging all employers to offer paid leave for vaccinations and booster shots.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.