**FILE** Courtesy of Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman via Twitter

Anne Arundel County has imposed an emergency indoor mask mandate beginning Friday.

The mandate, which applies to all indoor public locations, will run through Jan. 7 unless the county council votes to extend it.

“I had hoped we were done with government mandates in our response to COVID, but the current rate of spread and hospitalization is not sustainable, for our hospitals, our schools, our public safety agencies, or our businesses,” Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said in a statement announcing the new order. “Masks slow the spread and it’s time to put them back on.”

All public facilities — including retail shops, gyms, houses of worship, restaurants (except while dining) and other locations — must require patrons, guests and staff to wear face coverings while indoors.

The move from Pittman comes as county hospitals on Wednesday reported a record 191 coronavirus hospitalizations and a test positivity rate of 21% — the first time it has been above 20% since April 2020 at the pandemic’s outset.

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