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Governor Northam Lifts Mask Mandate to Align with CDC Guidance, Announces Virginia to End COVID-19 Mitigation Measures on May 28.

On May 14, Governor Ralph Northam lifted Virginia’s universal indoor mask mandate to align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Governor Northam also announced that Virginia will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions on Friday, May 28, two weeks earlier than planned. The updates to Virginia’s mask policy are reflected in amendments to Executive Order Seventy-Two and became effective at midnight along with previously announced changes to mitigation measures.

Virginia is able to take these steps as a result of increasing vaccination rates, dramatically declining COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and statewide test positivity rates, and revised federal guidelines.

“Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” said Governor Northam. “That’s why we can safely move up the timeline for lifting mitigation measures in Virginia. I strongly urge any Virginian who is not yet vaccinated to do so—the vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19. The message is clear: vaccinations are how we put this pandemic in the rearview mirror and get back to being with the people we love and doing the things we have missed.”

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.

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. Governor Northam will take executive action to ensure individuals have the option to wear masks up to and after that date.

  • Social Gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for indoor settings and 250 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Entertainment venues: Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30 percent capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity—up from 30 percent—with no specific cap on the number of attendees.
  • Recreational Sporting Events: The number of spectators allowed at indoor recreational sporting events will increase from 100 to 250 spectators or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less. Outdoor recreational sporting events will increase from 500 to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less.
  • Alcohol sales: Restaurants may return to selling alcohol after midnight, and dining room closures will no longer be required between midnight and 5 a.m.

Guests to Virginia are not required to provide a negative COVID-19 test or to quarantine during their visits.

Additional Resources

  • On-Site Airport COVID-19 Testing: The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is now offering on-site COVID-19 testing to travelers through XpresCheck at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and Dulles International Airport (IAD). These pre-security testing facilities are open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Testing options include a rapid test, with results available in as soon as 30 minutes, and a PCR test, with results available in one to three days.  For additional information, pricing or appointments, visit XpresCheck.com and select "Virginia - DCA" or "Virginia - IAD.
  • Arlington Health & Safety: Learn about the many ways Arlington and its businesses are addressing Health & Safety during your stay, and what to expect while you’re here.

Updated May 17, 2021