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Many Virginians not ready to ditch the mask entirely

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Posted at 10:15 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 23:28:52-04

NORFOLK, Va. - It’s been about a week since Virginia eased restrictions on masks for fully vaccinated people, but even as more businesses drop the mandate many shoppers are not ready to unmask.

When customers walk into Walmart, they can leave their mask in the car. However, don’t expect to find any signs letting people know about the change.

“I didn’t see a sign,” said John Baker of Norfolk. “There used to be a ‘mask required to enter,’ but I don’t see them anymore.”

His wife Kaitlyn agreed.

“There used to be a big banner,” she said.

Walmart is one of several big businesses that has dropped the mask mandate for those who have waited at least two weeks after their last shot.

The rule change comes just days after the governor lifted the mask requirement indoors and outdoors for those who are fully vaccinated. Though, many in Hampton Roads said they’re going to keep wearing them until they feel more comfortable taking them off.

Norfolk native Chad Bernhard is visiting from Brooklyn, N.Y. He said he’s fully vaccinated but wore his mask inside and outside the store.

“Just going in and out of the Walmart trying to be courteous of other people - stuff like that - for the people that may or may not have been vaccinated,” said Bernhard.

Jessica Clemons of Norfolk is also fully vaccinated but said as a mom of young kids, she wants to take extra precaution.

“I have three little ones at home including her, and there’s no vaccine for them yet, and so I just want to keep it safe,” Clemons said.

News 3 walked around Walmart for about 20 minutes and noticed only a few people without face coverings. A majority of the customers inside were still masking up.

“I had it down in here because it was just me and him,” said Norfolk resident Krissy Collins, who was with her son. “No one was around me, so I pull it down so that I can breathe and stuff.”

Baker and his wife Kaitlyn were enjoying their newfound freedom, but even they were feeling the pressure and kept their masks within reach.

“I was just like, 'I’m just going to keep it down,'” said Kaitlyn Baker. “If I have it on and someone approaches me about it, then I’ll put it on, but no one approached me about it.”

John Baker said he still getting used with not wearing a mask.

“With me not having it on, it was just kind of weird that I couldn’t see their face,” he said. “They could see mine.”

If you ask 8-year-old Madilynn Clemons, a covered face is what she’d like to see more of as thousands of children are still unvaccinated.

“I want people to wear their mask because it’ll keep all of us safe,” said Clemons.

Although some people are holding off on ditching the mask for good, they’re hopeful things are moving in the right direction.

“It feels like we’re getting back to normal finally after over a year,” Kaitlyn Baker said. “It’s like finally we can get back to where we used to be.”

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