Virginia lifts indoor mask mandate in most places

Posted at 4:19 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-15 10:18:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Should you still wear a mask in Virginia? The answer depends on where you are and whether or not you've been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

The Centers for Disease Control updated its mask guidance on Thursday, easing restrictions for fully vaccinated people.

That includes no longer recommending the fully vaccinated wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

In light of this updated CDC guidance, Governor Northam moved his plan to lift all capacity and social distancing restrictions up two weeks from June 15 to May 28.

He also changed Virginia's mask guidance. The following changes went into effect at midnight Saturday:

Virginia is lifting the universal indoor mask mandate. People who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask when indoors unless they are in one of the settings mentioned by the CDC (healthcare, public transport, correctional facilities, or homeless shelters).

Virginia strongly recommends, but will not require, unvaccinated people to continue to wear a mask in public.

Retail, restaurant, personal care, fitness, and entertainment workers will be required to wear a mask unless fully vaccinated.

Businesses will have the ability to require masks for employees.

Businesses can refuse service to customers who refuse to wear a mask.

Virginia is working on a solution, likely an executive order, to allow those who want to wear a mask to continue to be allowed to wear a mask after the state of emergency ends June 30. In Virginia, you're not allowed to wear a mask in public unless there is a state of emergency.

Masks will be required in K-12 settings.

While there will be no state vaccine passport, businesses can ask for proof of vaccination or require masks.

“Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” Governor Northam said in a statement about the changes. “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. The message is clear: vaccinations are how we put this pandemic in the rearview mirror and get back to being with the people we love and doing the things we have missed.”

More than 4 million Virginians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The statewide positivity rate is 3.5 percent, the lowest its been during the pandemic.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.