First weekend with changes to Virginia’s outdoor mask mandate

Events planned, but health experts urge caution on return to normal

First weekend with changes to Virginia’s outdoor mask mandate

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - More freedom for those fully vaccinated against COVID-19, at least when you are enjoying the great outdoors.

In Virginia, the governor changed his outdoor mask mandate this week, allowing those who got shots in arms to gather in small groups without a mask.

“The more people who get vaccinated, the closer we get to reclaiming some of our old patterns and habits and sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Danny Avula, State Vaccine Coordinator.

However, mask use is still required indoors and even in some outdoor settings at large crowded events like concerts, sporting events, and graduation ceremonies.

“If you’re in large crowds you don’t know what the vaccination status of many of those individuals will be, you don’t know their travel history,” said Dr. Avula.

One of those larger events happening this weekend is The Virginia Farm Festival at The Meadows Event Park.

“It’s primarily an outdoor event which for us made it very comfortable and management to plan and feel like about a month or two ago that we could move forward with it,” said Marlene Jolliffe, Vice President of Operations at The Meadow Event Park.

Canceled last year due to the pandemic, the two-day event will have a 3,000 person capacity cap each day.

“I’m just excited to see everyone else get to pull some stuff off and get so events off the ground,” said Jolliffe.

But, Dr. Avula cautions even vaccinated folks should wear a mask at an event like The Virginia Farm Festival.

If something much smaller is on your radar this weekend, and you are fully vaccinated, you can go without a face covering outdoors.

As for the future of masks, Dr. Avula says we won’t see them go away altogether. He points to flu rates this past season, almost nonexistence, which he says speaks to the power of masks.

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