States, retail giants lift mask mandates
Northam also announced that the state will lift all of its social distancing and capacity limitations May 28, and Hogan had announced earlier in the week that Maryland was lifting capacity restrictions Saturday. Businesses can still require masks, and the states will have exceptions for public transportation, health care facilities and schools.
“Virginians have been doing the right thing, and we’re seeing the results,” Northam said in a video on Twitter. “The vaccines are clearly working and they are saving lives.”
“Today is the day that so many of us have been waiting for and working toward,” Hogan said. “We finally do clearly see the light at the end of that tunnel.”
Also in the region, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday that “we are immediately reviewing the CDC guidance and will update DC Health guidance accordingly.”
Costco and Walmart, which both have locations in the area and nationwide, also moved Friday to lift their mask mandates for fully vaccinated people.
In regions with no mask requirements, Costco will now allow customers that have been fully vaccinated to shop without a mask and won’t require any proof of vaccination.
“We ask for members’ responsible and respectful cooperation with this revised policy,” Costco president and CEO W. Craig Jelinek said in a release.
Masks will still be required in Costco “healthcare settings” like the pharmacy.
As for Walmart, fully vaccinated customers will no longer need to wear masks as of Friday in areas without mask mandates, and fully vaccinated Walmart workers won’t need to wear masks starting Tuesday. Walmart field associates will also get a $75 bonus for getting vaccinated.
Both Walmart and Costco will follow local regulations on masks if there are any, the companies said in releases.
Public health officials have eased up on their concern for vaccinated people after months of urging Americans to avoid crowded places when possible.
After the CDC updated its guidance, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN Friday that he’d be comfortable eating indoors at restaurants just over a month after he said on MSNBC that it wasn’t “OK.”
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Fauci, the long-time National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, if he’d go into a crowded restaurant to have a beer and a burger.
“The answer is yes,” Fauci said. “If I had the time to do it, I would do it. But I don’t have the time to do it.”