COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – New guidelines from federal health officials mean millions of Americans could be saying goodbye to their masks, but in Columbus, the mask mandate remains for now.
The CDC made the announcement on Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans, for the most part, no longer need to wear masks. The website officially states:
-If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
-Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
In Georgia, local governments are able to impose a Local Option Face Covering requirement if they have 100 or more cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. This mask mandate is currently in place in Columbus as we are just above the threshold.
“I would think we would probably get below 100 if we continue on the trend line, probably by the middle of next week,” Mayor Skip Henderson said. “Then of course if that happens we’ll watch it for a week and make sure it’s not bouncing back and forth and then we’ll probably take it back to council and ask them to rescind it.”
Once the Face Covering Requirement is lifted, Columbus businesses will still have the authority to require masking and social distancing in their establishments.
“That’s the great thing about entrepreneurism,” Mayor Henderson said. “You have control over your own business…. I think you’ll see a lot of businesses, or at least a good number of them, continue to require masks.”
With summer quickly approaching, folks in the Fountain City are ready for this big step in returning to normalcy. News 3 spoke to Columbusites downtown to see their reactions.
“I think the mask mandate would go a long way in relieving COVID fatigue,” Niki Gedroic said.
“More people can go outside and enjoy the weather with their family which is awesome,” Molly Heisman said.
Mayor Henderson says people need to continue to be vigilant.
“I think when we look back on the pandemic, the thing that stands out is the number of people that stepped up and were concerned about their neighbor and did what they had to do,” Henderson said.