NORFOLK, Va. – Masks will no longer be needed for fully vaccinated Virginians indoors with some exceptions and even in crowds outdoors.
The move is liberating for Michelle Huffman of Norfolk.
“Ecstatic; I was so excited,” she said. “I was like, 'Is that today? Is Virginia free to take their mask off?'"
Alena Yarmosky, the Senior Communications Advisor for Northam sent a statement that read in part:
“Virginia will continue to follow CDC guidelines, as we have throughout this pandemic. We are in the process of reviewing these new recommendations and will update our guidance accordingly.
“Ultimately this reinforces the importance of getting vaccinated. Vaccines are our pathway out of this pandemic, and they are how we can all get back to doing what we love.”
Edward Johnson hair salon in Norfolk didn’t waste any time. They posted a sign on the door allowing vaccinated customers to ditch their masks. The sign read, “Effective immediately at Edward – fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks. Show us your vaccine card and ditch the mask.”
“Now, I want to get my hair done then go out and get something to eat and see some friends, stuff that you have been a little bit limited,” Huffman said.
While the news is a big step closer to a pre-pandemic life, some believe it’s too soon.
“I would still feel very uncomfortable going into a store without my mask, even if it’s just that I’m protecting myself and hopefully protecting those around me,” said Judy-Lynn Benjamin of Norfolk.
Small business owner Joan Wilkening is on the fence. She owns Mrs. Pinkkadot, a boutique on Granby Street in Norfolk.
“I’m surprised that it came so quickly, and it seems to have gone from wearing masks to not wearing masks and there was no gray area,” said Wilkening. “On the one hand, if it opens things up it could be better for business. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’m ready.”
Wilkening said she needs more time to decide if she’d change the mask policy at her boutique, adding it would be tough to enforce and would have to rely on the honor system for customers.
“I think it puts all of us in a very precarious situation,” she said. “There’s going to be people coming in that are not vaccinated without masks and could be still spreading the virus to each other.”
Masks are still required for those who are vaccinated on buses, planes, trains and in hospitals.
The CDC said people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to stay six feet apart but warns the country has not yet turned the corner in the pandemic.