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New mask safety guidelines give Hampton Roads event organizers hope

The CDC releases new mask recommendations that bring us closer to normalcy. They're separate for people who have been vaccinated and people who haven't.

NORFOLK, Va. — The CDC updated its guidelines to say if you're vaccinated, you can start doing many things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic. 

It's an encouraging sign in society's slow march back to the "old normal."

Along with new recommendations, the CDC provides a color-coded chart measuring the safety of certain activities. 

The categories take into account whether you're vaccinated, and includes recommendations for whether you should wear a mask or not. The three categories are: safest, less safe and least safe.

For instance, walking, running or biking outside on a path is considered "safest," with a vaccine or without a vaccine, and no mask is needed.

Attending a small outdoor gathering with vaccinated and unvaccinated people is also considered "safest." A mask is recommended, but only if you're unvaccinated.

When it comes to attending a crowded indoor shopping center or museum, the CDC says it's still "safest" for those who are vaccinated, but a mask is recommended. It's deemed "less safe" for those unvaccinated, even with a mask.

How about attending a crowded, outdoor live event like a festival or a parade? 

The CDC says this activity is "safest" for vaccinated people, but falls under the "least safe" category for those who are unvaccinated, even with the recommended mask.

That's the activity that has Stockley Gardens Arts Festival Director Elena Montello most excited.

"This is good, we have hope for the October show," she said. "We desperately want to get back out to the park." 

The May show was moved to a virtual setting months ago, operating under a different set of CDC guidelines. 

"My first reaction last night watching the news was, 'Man I wish I knew this couple months ago,'" Montello said. 

If Montello has learned anything from the past year, it's that you never know what will come next. 

"When it comes to events, I feel like I'm on a seesaw, it's 'Yaaayyyy---Noooo,'" she said.

For now, it's yay, based on these new guidelines.