HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Lee Wang arrived at Richmond International Airport from Los Angeles on the day Governor Ralph Northam lifted all social distancing and capacity restrictions in the Commonwealth.
“I’m pretty surprised to hear Virginia opened up completely,” Wang said. “I know there are new cases in Los Angeles and California so there have to be new cases here.”
The social distancing and capacity restrictions we've lived with throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted in Virginia on Friday morning. Mask-wearing, among unvaccinated Virginians, was still encouraged.
While the state has erased those restrictions, individual businesses still maintain the right to keep COVID-related safety measures in place.
You must also continue wearing your mask at airports like RIC. The original federal mask mandate, which was effective until May 11, has been extended until September 13.
“This is a federal mandate and based on a CDC order,” a federal official said.
Passengers must also wear face coverings on over-the-road buses, commuter buses and trains, and in train and bus terminals.
Margaret Massie and her girlfriends boarded a flight on Friday from RIC headed to New Orleans for a bachelorette party. Her group of seven joined 2.5 million Americans expected to take flight during this Memorial Day weekend.
“It’s super exciting. We are all pumped and vaccinated and ready to get back out there,” Massie explained. “Even if we have still have the masks on it’s nice to be able to go somewhere else than Richmond and get to travel again.”
We caught a handful of mask-less individuals walking throughout the RIC terminal with luggage in tow. A vast majority of people were masked.
The FAA said they received 1,900 reports of passengers violating mask requirements and an increase in incidents involving passengers assaulting flight crews over enforcing the rules.
The flight attendant union is calling for more safety regulations in light of the assaults and the FAA is issuing hefty fines to those who violate airline policy.
If the constant stream of passengers reveals anything after this pandemic: travel is ready for a rebound.
Businesses can also ask customers for proof of vaccination.
More than 4.6 million Virginians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That equals 54% of the state's population and 66% of the state's adult population. Virginians 12 and older are currently eligible to get vaccinated. Click here for information about getting vaccinated