As the omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to decline, mask and vaccine restrictions are starting to lift across the country, even in areas that were previously notorious for strict COVID requirements, like New York and Los Angeles.
On Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 guidelines, with a new map showing the areas of the country that remain under high alert (recommended masking and other precautions), medium alert (masking may be recommended if you are a high-risk person) and low risk (which does not recommend masking for indoor or outdoor companies and schools). More than 70% of the country is now in a low-risk zone, which means the CDC only recommends masking 30% of the American population.
But the CDC warns that these new guidelines may not last forever because COVID-19 has not yet entered the endemic phase, and may not last until the following year. Moderna executives predict.
“None of us know what the future holds for us and this virus,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. said in a call with reporters Friday. “And we have to be prepared and we have to be ready for whatever comes next. We want to give people a break from things like wearing masks when our levels are low and then having the ability to reach them again if the things get worse in the future.”
As the CDC begins to relax precautionary guidelines, the rest of the country is following suit. In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Sunday that the city will waive its vaccination proof requirements for employees and customers of businesses, restaurants and indoor events starting March 7, as long as cases continue. down.
“We must continue to be smart and safe, and modify mandates as COVID risks are reduced,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement emailed to Nation’s Restaurant. News. “Removing vaccination proof for indoor dining and drinking will be very good news for many restaurants and bars, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some businesses voluntarily want to keep it in place.”
Other cities following similar guidelines include Atlanta, which ended its citywide indoor mask mandate on Friday shortly after the CDC released its updated guidelines. Los Angeles finished his indoor mask mandate last Wednesday and Chicago lifted its vaccination proof and indoor mask mandates on Monday following the CDC’s update.
“I think [this ease of restrictions] will take some of the burden off businesses because they won’t have to track these things or face compliance denials from people,” said David Miller, labor and employment attorney at Bryant. Miller Olive PA at Nation’s Restaurant News. “However, I think business owners will be asked to allow people to remain masked if they wish.”
Of course, not every business is going to want to remove COVID Band-Aid restrictions right now. Miller said it’s very location specific and in some areas like Miami, for example, they haven’t had warrants in a while, but people not in masks will still get dirty looks from others. customers when they enter a restaurant because the culture is still mostly COVID compliant.
Companies should also be prepared if directions change, if, for example, another variant arises.
“Follow the law and know your market and your customers,” Miller said. “Any good restaurant manager will know his customers [and their stance on masking] like the back of his hand.
Contact Joanna at [email protected]
Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi