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Virginia lifts mask mandate

Other mitigation measures will be dropped May 28.
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 4:35 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/Governor’s Office Release) - Virginia’s mask mandate ended at midnight Friday night, according to Governor Ralph Northam.

Click here to read the latest state guidelines.

The ending of the indoor mask mandate aligns with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Northam also announced Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions Friday, May 28, two weeks earlier than planned.

The updates to Virginia’s mask policy are reflected in amendments to Executive Order Seventy-Two and will become effective at midnight the night of May 14 along with previously announced changes to mitigation measures.

Northam says Virginia is able to take these steps as a result of increasing vaccination rates, dramatically declining COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and statewide test positivity rate, and revised federal guidelines.

“Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” said Governor Northam. “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.”

The CDC guidelines state fully-vaccinated people do not have to wear masks in most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Businesses retain the ability to require masks in their establishments. Employees who work in certain business sectors—including restaurants, retail, fitness, personal care, and entertainment—must continue to wear masks unless fully vaccinated, per CDC guidance. Those who are unvaccinated or not fully-vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks in all settings.

The state of emergency in Virginia will remain in place at least through June 30 to provide flexibility for local governments to support ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts, according to Northam, who plans to take executive action to ensure people have the option to wear masks up to and after that date. Masks will continue to be required in K-12 public schools, given low rates of vaccination among children.

To encourage all Virginians to take advantage of available COVID-19 vaccines, Northam is inviting Virginians to participate in the “It’s Our Shot, Virginia: Statewide Day of Action” Tuesday, May 18.

Virginians can take part in the Day of Action by:

· Signing up to be a COVID Community Ambassador. “Ambassadors will help share COVID-19 updates and materials from experts and sources with their networks and in their communities. Sign up to become a COVID Community Ambassador here.”

· Sharing your vaccination story on social media. Add a Facebook profile photo frame, upload a backdrop to your next virtual meeting, or record a short video highlighting why you chose to get vaccinated using the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia.

Virginia has administered nearly 7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. More than 4 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, representing over 63 percent of Virginia’s adult population. Governor Northam has said he remains confident the Commonwealth will meet President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adults vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4.

Virginians over the age of 12 can schedule a vaccination appointment by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov or calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Beginning Monday, May 17, the call center hours will change to 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

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