NORFOLK, Va. — No mask? No problem.
The CDC announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks outdoors or inside in most situations.
“I think it’s good. I think it’s really good," said Jared Wilson, a junior at Norfolk State University.
Wilson and his friends and fellow classmates, Jamont Hyde-Charles and Joseph Kemp are happy to have the option. None of them are fully vaccinated yet, but they are unsure if they will be comfortable without their masks in public spaces.
“It may open people up to enjoying the world again and feeling comfortable to go out,” said Hyde-Charles. "But I will probably still keep my mask on in some situations. It's nice we have the choice to not have it on anymore."
If you are in the U.S. and it's been at least two weeks since your final shot, the CDC now says:
- Masks and social distancing are no longer needed, except in places like hospitals, prisons or homeless shelters, or businesses with their own mask policies.
- You do not need a COVID test after known exposure, unless you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter, or if you have symptoms.
- You do not need to take a COVID test or self-isolate to travel in the United States. However, masks are still required on planes, buses, and other public transportation.
The new guidelines are a sign of a gradual return to pre-pandemic normalcy. But it also raises questions and concerns for Christy Marron, who owns Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub on Granby St. in Norfolk.
How does she know if people are fully vaccinated?
“Are we the ones who are going to have to enforce and prove if you are vaccinated or not?" she asked. "It’s going to be very difficult.”
Marron is encouraged, but also worried. She wants more guidance from Gov. Ralph Northam before she makes any changes at her establishment.
“Quite frankly, until we get to the point where he says you don’t have to worry about masks at all, we will probably reinforce it,” she said.
Marron said all her staff is not yet fully vaccinated, and she wants to protect their health and the customers.
Northam's press secretary Alena Yarmosky said Virginia will continue to follow CDC guidelines.
"We are reviewing this guidance and expect to have more updates soon," she said. "Ultimately this reinforces the importance of getting vaccinated. Vaccines are our pathway out of this pandemic, and they are how we can all get back to doing what we love. With the expansion of eligibility to everyone 12 and older, more Virginians can get vaccinated than ever before. If you haven't already, now is the time to get your shot.”
These new guidelines will certainly help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues. They do not apply to hospitals.