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Many Businesses Follow Governor’s Lead On Easing Mask Mandates

Many businesses recently amended their face mask policies in response to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement on May 14 lifting the mask mandate both indoors and outdoors for individuals who are fully vaccinated against covid-19.

Governor Northam ended the face mask policy in most situations for those who are fully vaccinated in accordance with guidelines updated by the CDC. Face coverings are still required in schools, in hospitals and doctors’ offices, and on major modes of public transportation. Individuals who are not vaccinated are also asked to continue wearing masks.

Following the governor’s announcement, national corporations, many with locations on the Peninsula, also lifted their face mask requirements for those who are fully vaccinated, including Walmart, Costco, and Trader Joe’s. Target initially stated it would continue to require face masks but on May 17 changed its policy, enabling both vaccinated employees and customers to enter its stores without a mask.

The grocery store chain Publix also adjusted its face mask policy for fully vaccinated customers. Publix has a location in Williamsburg. Meanwhile, other grocery stores including Harris Teeter and Kroger, which have several locations in Williamsburg and on the Peninsula, have stated they are keeping their face mask policies.

Locally, Busch Gardens lifted its face covering requirement for vaccinated guests on May 16, two days after the governor’s announcement. Employees at Newport News Shipbuilding who are fully vaccinated also no longer need to wear masks. Visitors to Williamsburg Regional Library don’t have to wear masks if they have received the vaccine.

Some establishments have chosen to continue with their face mask policies for everyone while other restaurants and businesses have stated only employees will be required to wear face coverings.

Celli’s Chocolate Chips in Williamsburg perhaps stated it best when it announced its updated face mask policy on social media.

“If you feel comfortable not wearing a mask in-store, we support you. If you want to wear your mask, we support you. Our goal is to always provide the highest level of customer experience and we are looking forward to some semblance of normalcy,” Celli’s statement read.

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