Fully-vaccinated Virginians no longer need to wear masks in most places, including indoors. On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam updated his mask mandate, effective Saturday, to align with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance released Thursday.
“Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” Northam said in his announcement. “That’s why we can safely move up the timeline for lifting mitigation measures in Virginia. I strongly urge any Virginian who is not yet vaccinated to do so—the vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19.”
Masks are still required on public transit, in health care facilities, in schools, and in crowded settings. Businesses can also require their customers to wear masks, Northam said.
The CDC guidelines also state that fully-vaccinated people don’t need to socially distance. Northam said he’s moving up the timeline for ending capacity and social distancing requirements by two weeks to May 28.
Within hours of publication of the CDC’s new guidance, Republicans asked Northam to update his mask mandate. After the update, Virginia representatives of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) praised the change.
“We applaud Governor Northam for taking this step to accelerate Virginia’s economic recovery. Small businesses are excited to know Virginia will be opening up fully sooner rather than later,” NFIB Virginia Director Nicole Riley said in a press release. “However, what isn’t clear to businesses is will they still be held liable to the permanent workplace safety regulations the State imposed on them to combat the exposure and spread of the coronavirus now that the Executive Order 72 will be rescinded on May 28? The last thing government should be doing when small businesses are trying to reopen is continuing to impose irrelevant regulations.”
In his announcement, Northam said Virginians made the change possible by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. He cited nearly 7 million vaccine doses administered and low numbers of new cases.
“Virginians have been doing the right thing, and we’re seeing the results,” Northam said in a video announcement. “The vaccines are clearly working, and they’re saving lives.”
– – –