VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginians are sharing their thoughts following Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement to lift the universal mask mandate put in place nearly a year ago to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The mask mandate will expire at midnight for people who are vaccinated.
Later this month, he’s lifting all restrictions on gatherings and social distancing.
Fifteen months and seven million vaccine shots later, Virginia is marking another major milestone in the coronavirus pandemic.
Some people told 10 On Your Side they’re excited, and others said they’ll continue to be cautious.
Northam said lifting the universal mask mandate is consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
“This means if you’re fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask in most situations,” he said.
The announcement came as a surprise for some.
“I think it’s fantastic I’m ready to get back to life to normal,” said area resident Beth Gregory.
“I think it’s wonderful. I think it was something that was necessary to be done. They followed the science,” one man said.
Masks will still be required in schools and businesses can still choose to require customers to wear masks though some people wonder how that will play out.
“I feel like a lot of people are going to want to take off their mask no matter what and it’s not like everybody is going to be walking around with a card and people asking,” a woman told 10 On Your Side.
Northam also announced on May 28, all of the state’s mitigation restrictions on capacity and distancing in businesses and public spaces will be lifted.
The state’s COVID positivity rate is 3.5% — the lowest it’s been since the pandemic began.
“I’m still always gonna have my mask with me and I’ll still stay in small groups,” said L.A. Boyd. “I may hold off. I may have to do the takeout again.”
People said it will be an adjustment being in crowded places again. Others said it’s overall good news and just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
“It might be easier on a lot of businesses. I mean that’s what I’m concerned about too,” said Lori Smith. “I’m sure all of Virginia Beach is a bit relieved.”
Northam said Virginians are doing the right thing so to keep the momentum going.
“It’s very simple – it’s either a shot or mask. It’s up to you.”
If you are not vaccinated, you are still strongly encouraged to wear a mask when out in public.
Virginians over the age of 12 can schedule a vaccination appointment on the Vaccinate Virginia website.
Many clinics are also open for walk-ins now.