Obenshain calls on Gov. Northam to lift statewide mask mandate in its entirety
Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday lifted the state’s mask mandate, and signaled an end to social distancing and capacity restrictions on May 28. Not far enough, says Rockingham County State Sen. Mark Obenshain.
“At this point, everyone in Virginia has had an opportunity to sign up for a vaccination. Virginians can be trusted to decide for themselves whether or not to wear a mask,” said Obenshain, who is calling on Northam to fully lift the mask mandate.
“States like Texas and Florida lifted their mask mandates and reopened their states nearly three months ago – after their states’ most vulnerable citizens had an opportunity to secure vaccinations. And they did it without experiencing the surge predicted by the liberal political class and pundits. We need to quit succumbing to crazy pseudo-science and the political weaponization of COVID,” Obenshain said.
The CDC guidelines state that fully-vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Businesses retain the ability to require masks in their establishments.
Employees who work in certain business sectors — including restaurants, retail, fitness, personal care, and entertainment — must continue to wear masks unless fully vaccinated, per CDC guidance. Those who are unvaccinated or not fully-vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks in all settings.
“Common sense, experience, and science have converged here, yet Gov. Northam has persisted in his stubborn refusal to adopt anything but half-measures,” Obenshain said. “I am calling on the governor to end the mask mandate in its entirety, to trust Virginians to make the right choices for themselves and their families.”
The state of emergency in Virginia will remain in place at least through June 30 to provide flexibility for local government and support ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Northam will take executive action to ensure individuals have the option to wear masks up to and after that date.
Masks will continue to be required in K-12 public schools, given low rates of vaccination among children.
“Remember that the mandate covers anyone 5 years or older. Lifting the mask mandate for only those who have been vaccinated still leaves it in place for 5-year-olds, despite a total lack of science to support masking kindergarteners – or at least they would be kindergarteners if the governor would reopen schools. The governor should lift the mask mandate, in its entirety, and proceed to reopen Virginia – now,” Obenshain said.
Story by Chris Graham