PHILADELPHIA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's open-ended new guidelines on mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people sparked widespread confusion about state mask mandates that are currently in place. While some states adopted the new guidance automatically, others are still upholding mitigation rules both indoors and outdoors.
The updated guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
The Delaware Valley currently has three states with slightly different mask rules and interpretations of the CDC's updated guidance. There's also Philadelphia, a city with more than 1M people, that has made its own rules during the pandemic due to population density.
Pennsylvania automatically adopted the new CDC guidance on mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people. Pennsylvanians who are two weeks removed from their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine are no longer required to wear masks indoors or outside in most settings.
The state's mask mandate still applies to people who are not vaccinated and those still within the process of being vaccinated. However, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary Alison Beam said the state will fully remove its mask mandate once 70% of the adult population is inoculated.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia health officials did not immediately adopt the CDC's updated guidelines. Philadelphians are still required to wear a mask inside and practice social distancing. City officials said they are reviewing the updated guidance and could have a decision soon.
New Jersey will lift its indoor mask mandate for people vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning on May 28, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.
The announcement comes about a week after Murphy, a Democrat, rejected similar mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying he wanted "more time on the clock" for people to get vaccinated.
Also on Friday, the state is lifting the requirement for maintaining 6 feet at all indoor and outdoor businesses such as restaurants, retail stores, gyms and casinos.
Delaware no longer requires fully vaccinated people to wear masks or practice social distancing in most settings, and the state will soon repeal its mask mandate.
"Delawareans who are fully vaccinated have significant protection against this virus and can feel comfortable getting back to the things they loved to do before this pandemic," Gov. John Carney said.
The state's mask mandate for unvaccinated people will lift on May 21.
"For our neighbors who aren’t vaccinated, the message is clear. The COVID-19 vaccine is the best protection we have against the virus," Carney said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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