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Virginia Lifts Indoor Face Mask Mandate, Other COVID-19 Restrictions

Governor Ralph Northam
Gov. Ralph Northam speaks with members of the media at a vaccination event in Richmond. (Crixell Matthews / VPM News).

Governor Ralph Northam is lifting Virginia’s universal indoor mask mandate Friday at midnight.

The move matches the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance that vaccinated people can safely unmask and gather closely in almost any indoor and outdoor setting.

“Virginians have been doing the right thing, and we’re seeing the results,” Northam said in a video message Friday afternoon. “Seven million shots have been given in Virginia, and two-thirds of Virginia adults have had a shot. The vaccines are clearly working, and they are saving lives.”

Northam also announced that all statewide restrictions on distancing and gathering will be drawn back on May 28th, two weeks earlier than anticipated. 

The change doesn’t mean that all masking will stop. The CDC still requires people to wear a mask while taking public transit, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will continue to be required in Virginia’s public schools, due to the low rates of vaccination among children.

Businesses, including restaurants, retail and entertainment venues, may also maintain their own masking rules.

COVID-19 cases have gone down considerably in the commonwealth as more of the population has been vaccinated. Test positivity is the lowest it’s been since the start of the pandemic.

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.
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