DOVER, Del. (AP) — Democratic Gov. John Carney said Friday that he will lift Delaware’s mask-wearing mandate effective May 21 after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing.
The move comes after the CDC issued new guidance Thursday saying people who have been vaccinated can resume activities without wearing a mask or social distancing. The relaxed guidance does not apply to health care settings, prisons and homeless shelters, and it still calls for wearing masks while using public transportation.
The announcement prompted governors of several states to relax state mandates on mask wearing.
“It’s clear that the COVID-19 vaccines are extremely safe and protective against infection and serious illness,” Carney said in a statement. “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.”
“In the meantime, Delawareans who are unvaccinated, including children, should continue to wear masks in public places,” Carney added.
The lifting of Delaware’s mask mandate next Friday coincides with the easing of other COVID-19 restrictions effective next Friday that Carney formalized in an order he signed Wednesday. That order eliminated most business capacity restrictions and lifted a distancing requirement on school buses, while still requiring masks indoors.
Wednesday’s order also narrowed social distancing requirements from 6 feet to 3 feet (2 meters to 1 meter). Despite the lifting of the mask mandate announced Friday, the state’s social distancing requirement remains in effect for now, although administration officials said they would have more details next week.