Gov. Northam updates outdoor mask mandate to match CDC guidance

Gov. Northam updates outdoor mask mandate to match CDC guidance
(FILE) (Source: Pixabay)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam has amended guidance on outdoor mask use to align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Guidelines state that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks outdoors if they are alone or in small gatherings. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two weeks after their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna.

Mask use is still required indoors and outdoors at large, crowded events such as concerts, sporting events and graduation ceremonies.

“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,” Gov. Northam said. “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.”

While many say the update is a step in the right direction, Henrico Interscholastic Cycling Team Coach Pete Fagan says his group is erring on the side of caution for now.

“Everybody has to make their own choice and our choice is that because we have a large group of people, and just by the nature of biking together and coaching, we are still in close proximity to each other and so, we are preferring to keep the masks on,” Fagan said.

Fagan says his team comprises a wide age group. While some coaches have been vaccinated until his entire coaching staff gets their shots and children become eligible, he won’t relax safety measures until the pandemic is more under control.

“The team is still acting like a team, and we are working together to keep everyone safe, so it is progress, and it’s only going to get better,” Fagan said.

Les Crepes General Manager Andrea Ramirez also welcomes the update but says despite her entire staff being vaccinated, her restaurant won’t ease back on its safety measures either.

“It’s just an opportunity for us to go back to our normal lives...,” Ramirez said. “We won’t change because we still want everybody to feel safe and as long as my customers don’t feel safe we’re not going to change anything.

The governor also updated Executive Order Seventy-Two to allow up to 1,000 spectators at outdoor recreational sporting events. This will allow more people to attend the final high school games of the season and summer sports.

More restrictions will be rolled back on May 15. Northam also hopes that remaining capacity limits will be able to be lifted in mid-June as long as COVID-19 cases remain stable and vaccinations progress.

More than 3.7 million Virginians have had at least one dose and 2.5 million are fully vaccinated.

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