RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR/WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has lifted Virginia’s mask mandate to align with new federal guidance.
Businesses will still have the authority to require their employees and customers to wear masks and can ask for proof of people’s vaccination status, according to the governor’s office.
“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,” Northam said in a video on Friday, May 14. “The message is clear: vaccinations are how we put this pandemic in the rearview mirror and get back to being with the people we love and doing the things we have missed.”
The changes will go into effect at midnight when restrictions on capacity limits —including those on sporting events, gatherings, and entertainment venues — are also lifted.
Fully vaccinated people will still have to wear masks in certain settings, such as health care facilities, public transport, correctional facilities, or homeless shelters. Masks will still be mandated in K-12 public schools, the release said.
According to a release from the governor’s office, those who are not vaccinated will not be required to wear a mask in public but are strongly encouraged to do so still.
Northam also plans to lift all capacity and social distancing restrictions by May 28, two weeks earlier than the original timeline.
According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), almost half of the state’s population has received at least one dose and nearly 37% have been fully vaccinated. Nearly 7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the commonwealth.
“Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” Northam said. “That’s why we can safely move up the timeline for lifting mitigation measures in Virginia.”
You can view Northam’s COVID-19 update below: