Virginians who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer have to wear masks when outdoors alone or in small groups, according to a Thursday announcement from Governor Ralph Northam. Effective immediately, he also amended Executive Order 72 to allow the lesser of 1,000 spectators or 30 percent capacity at recreational sports, two weeks earlier than originally planned.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance saying that fully vaccinated people can participate in all kinds of activities, and that they can safely not use masks while outdoors, except in crowded contexts. Northam’s update follows the CDC’s new guidelines.
Schools are beginning to incorporate the new guidance into their own rules. On Wednesday, Fauquier County Public Schools announced that masks for students and staff would be optional while participating in outdoor activities. In the announcement, Superintendent David Jeck said the district had been quick to begin bringing students back in person, but officials carefully followed safety guidelines.
He said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In our case, it meant taking a very conservative approach to mitigations, especially mask wearing. I make no apologies for this especially considering that positive cases among our 10,000 students are minuscule, especially for elementary students.”
“Our metrics have improved to the extent that our principals and school board are comfortable relaxing outdoor masking requirements,” Jeck said.
“The CDC’s recommendations underscore what we have said all along—vaccinations are the way we will put this pandemic behind us and get back to normal life,” Northam said in his press release. “Our increasing vaccination rate and decreasing number of new COVID-19 cases has made it possible to ease mitigation measures in a thoughtful and measured manner. I encourage all Virginians who have not yet received the vaccine to make an appointment today.”
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