Virginia mask mandate lifted, COVID-19 restrictions to end May 28

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam lifted Virginia’s universal indoor mask mandate Friday to align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gov. Northam also announced that Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions on Friday, May 28, two weeks earlier than planned.

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"Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts," said Gov. 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. 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 CDC guidelines state that fully-vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Businesses retain the ability to require masks in their establishments.

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Employees who work in certain business sectors—including restaurants, retail, fitness, personal care, and entertainment—must continue to wear masks unless fully vaccinated, per CDC guidance.

Those who are unvaccinated or not fully-vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks in all settings. 

READ MORE: New CDC guidance on masks clashes with some local regulations

Masks will continue to be required in K-12 public schools, given low rates of vaccination among children.

The state of emergency in Virginia will remain in place at least through June 30 to provide flexibility for local government and support ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts. 

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Virginia is currently reporting a positivity rate of 3.5 percent, which is lower than at any time since the start of the pandemic.