FILE - Ralph Northam mask

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam removes his mask to answer a question during a COVID-19 briefing at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020.

Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday amended Virginia's mask mandate, saying those who are vaccinated don't have to mask up outdoors alone or in small gatherings.

Mask use is still required indoors, and outdoors at large crowded events like concerts, sporting events, and graduation ceremonies. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of vaccine.

“The CDC’s recommendations underscore what we have said all along—vaccinations are the way we will put this pandemic behind us and get back to normal life,” Northam said in a news release. “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. I encourage all Virginians who have not yet received the vaccine to make an appointment today.” 

The Governor also revised the executive order on gathering limits, now allowing up to 1,000 spectators for outdoor recreational sports, effective immediately.

This change advances by two weeks a change that was scheduled to go into effect on May 15 and will allow additional spectators to participate in final games of the current high school sports season and the summer sports season.

Northam reiterated that the next steps to ease mitigation measures will go into effect on Saturday, May 15 as previously announced. He expects to be able to roll back the remaining capacity limits in mid-June as long as Virginia’s health metrics remain stable and vaccination progress continues.

More than 3.7 million Virginians have been vaccinated with at least one dose, representing 57 percent of Virginia’s adult population, and 2.5 million Virginians are fully vaccinated, representing 39 percent of the adult population.

Virginians over the age of 16 can schedule a vaccination appointment by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov or calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1).

Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

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