Virginia Loosens Mask Mandate, Allows 1,000-Person Sports Crowds

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People who are fully vaccinated can skip wearing masks in some settings in Virginia. 

Gov. Ralph Northam announced changes Thursday to the state’s mask requirements, citing progress in the fight against COVID-19.

“Our increasing vaccination rate and decreasing number of new COVID-19 cases has made it possible to ease mitigation measures in a thoughtful and measured manner,” Northam said in a statement.

People who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks outdoors “when alone or in small gatherings,” the statement from the governor’s office said. 

Masks are still required “indoors and outdoors at large crowded events like concerts, sporting events, and graduation ceremonies,” the statement said. 

Additionally, up to 1,000 spectators will be allowed at outdoor recreational sports, effective immediately. The change was set to go into effect two weeks later. 

Other COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened starting May 15, as previously announced. Here’s what will change: 

  • The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for indoor settings and 250 people for outdoor settings, up from 50 and 100, respectively
  • Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30% capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50% capacity.
  • Restaurants will be allowed to return to selling alcohol after midnight. Dining room closures will no longer be required between midnight and 5 a.m.

Northam said he expects to be able to roll back the remaining capacity limits in mid-June, if COVID-19 case counts remain “stable” and more people get vaccinated.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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