Floridians who have completed their vaccination against COVID-19 can stop wearing masks in public, Florida Health Secretary and Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said in a recently issued health advisory.
Thursday night’s advisory comes when only 34% of all Floridians have been fully vaccinated, and days after a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outdoors unless they are in a crowd.
The state order appears to go against CDC direction that “fully vaccinated people should continue to wear a mask” at indoor public spaces because the vaccination status of others or whether they are at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection of others is unknown.
According to a news release, Rivkees considered the following factors in deciding to lift the mask requirement for those who are fully vaccinated:
- Nearly nine million individuals have been vaccinated in Florida.
- Scientific studies show that the COVID-19 vaccines protect individuals from COVID-19, and dramatically diminish hospitalizations and deaths caused by the virus.
- Continuing COVID-19 restrictions on individuals with no end in sight, including the long-term use of face coverings and withdrawal from social and recreational gatherings, pose a risk of adverse and unintended consequences.
- Florida has a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccines to provide an opportunity for every eligible Floridian who wants to be vaccinated.
The new order further encourages all state government offices to conduct business in person.
Without mentioning masks specifically, the three-page advisory rescinds previous public health advisories requiring face coverings wherever social distancing was not possible, both indoors and outdoors. It also allows folks to attend social and recreational gatherings, except in limited circumstances.
Part of the order reads, “…WHERAS, continuing COVID-19 restrictions on individuals, with no end in sight, including long-term use of face coverings and withdrawal from social recreational gatherings, pose a risk of adverse and unintended consequences…”