Gov. Ralph Northam lifting mask mandate for fully vaccinated Virginians, removing other measures in 2 weeks

The changes go into effect May 15 at midnight

Gov. Northam lifts mask mandate at midnight
Gov. Northam lifts mask mandate at midnight

RICHMOND, Va. – Very soon, some Virginians do not need to wear masks in most public settings.

On Saturday at midnight, Gov. Ralph Northam is lifting Virginia’s universal indoor mask mandate in accordance with the CDC’s new guidelines.

CDC’s guidelines say that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most indoor settings with the following exceptions: on public transit, in health care facilities, or in large crowds. However, Virginians who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks in all settings.

In addition, social distancing and gathering capacity restrictions will also be eased on May 28, two weeks earlier than planned.

Here’s a breakdown of the social gathering limits going into place on May 15 that will be eased in two weeks time:

  • Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for indoor settings and 250 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Entertainment venues: Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30 percent capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity—up from 30 percent—with no specific cap on the number of attendees.
  • Recreational sporting events: The number of spectators allowed at indoor recreational sporting events will increase from 100 to 250 spectators or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less. Outdoor recreational sporting events will increase from 500 to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less.

Northam said lifting these mandates is possible thanks to Virginia’s increasing vaccination rates, the decline in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and positivity rate as well as 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 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.”

According to CDC guidelines, businesses still have the authority to require masks in their establishments. Employees who work in restaurants, retail, fitness, personal care and entertainment are still required to wear masks at work unless they are fully vaccinated.


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