The pandemic landscape in Vermont and the U.S. shifted quickly this week as the Centers for Disease Control relaxed guidelines for wearing masks indoors on Thursday and state officials announced similar revisions and additional COVID-19 restriction changes on Friday.
Let’s break down those changes and answer some of the questions you may have.
What does the CDC say about mask wearing?
The new CDC guidance says that fully vaccinated people can safely stop wearing masks inside most places. The rules still call for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings such as buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but could ease restrictions for reopening workplaces and schools.
The agency also said fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even in crowded spaces.
Are there places I still have to wear a mask?
You must still wear a mask in businesses or workplaces that require, one and in places where state or local governments still have a mask mandate in place. The CDC guidance does not supersede local requirements.
Additionally, CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated people must still wear a mask in health care settings, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, and public transportation. That includes planes, buses and trains traveling into, within or outside of the U.S. as part of a federal mask mandate that was extended to Sept. 13.
What is Vermont’s new mask mandate?
The state is also following the CDC guidance: People who are fully vaccinated may go without a mask in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
All masking requirements are expected to be gone by July 4, or possibly earlier depending on the continued vaccination rate, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said. At that point, masking will be recommended but not required.
Many are allowed to take off our masks:Why some of us don’t want to
Who should still wear masks in Vermont?
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People who do not qualify as fully vaccinated under that definition must continue to follow masking and physical distancing guidance for the time being, Scott said.
How will the new mask rules be enforced?
Like many things during the pandemic, the state is asking people to follow this new guidance on the honor system. Businesses could potentially ask for someone to present their vaccination card, Scott said, but, “I’m not advocating for this.”
What are the restrictions on travel to Vermont?
None. People can now come and go freely with no testing or quarantine requirements for travelers.
The exception to that rule is for those traveling internationally. Those going north of the border are asked to follow the CDC’s travel notice for Canada and Canada’s entry restrictions. Those traveling abroad are asked to check the current list of travel advisories by country from the U.S. Department of State, and follow CDC guidance on testing and international travel.
What is going on at the border?:150-year-old Vermont general store on the U.S.-Canada border sees its final days
Along with the eased travel guidelines, Gov. Scott announced new rules on gatherings. They are:
- 1 unvaccinated person per 50 square feet indoors, and up to 300 people, plus any number of vaccinated people.
- 900 unvaccinated people outdoors, plus any number of vaccinated people.
USA Today and the Burlington Free Press contributed to this report.