Virginians who are fully vaccinated can ditch their masks for most indoor and outdoor situations effective tonight at midnight, Gov. Ralph Northam announced this afternoon (Friday).

He also moved up the end date for all distancing and capacity restrictions to Friday, May 28. Virginia was already preparing to ease some restrictions tomorrow (Saturday), but as of today, all distancing and capacity restrictions will end on Friday, May 28 — two weeks earlier than planned.

“This is a tremendous step forward,” Northam said in a video message. “Virginians have been doing the right thing, and we’re seeing the results.”

As of today, Virginia has administered nearly 7 million vaccine doses and 63% of adults have received at least one dose, the governor said in his announcement. In Arlington, nearly 200,000 doses have been administered and over 60% of the adult population has received at least one dose.

COVID-19 case numbers, meanwhile, have fallen to levels Arlington and the Commonwealth have not seen since last summer.

Northam’s announcement comes on the heels of new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yesterday (Thursday) the CDC said fully vaccinated Americans will no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local or tribal laws, or business and workplace guidance.

There are some exceptions to the new masking guidance. Businesses can still require coverings and masks will also still be required in schools, he said.

“It’s very simple: It’s either a shot or a mask,” Northam said. “It’s up to you.”

Between now and May 28, Northam urged every eligible Virginian — now anyone ages 12 and up — to get vaccinated and join the two-thirds of Virginia adults who have received at least one shot.

“The vaccines are clearly working and they are saving lives,” he said. “We have plenty of shots available. It will protect you better than anything else.”

Image via Gov. Ralph Northam/YouTube

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