Washington: Two US States, Illinois and California have tweaked the mask mandate to suit the local Covid situation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had issued on May 13 new guidelines about wearing masks.
The amendment provides that fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear face coverings in most situations, as reported by Xinhua news agency quoting Chicago Tribune. The original mask mandate had come into effect a year ago.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said the mask rule has been adjusted and now people fully vaccinated will not be required to wear masks except in special situations.
However, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sounded a different note on Monday saying that the third-largest city in the US needs more information before changing its rules on masks. He added that social distancing will continue to be crucial.
Cities, as opposed to states, are allowed to have rules that are stricter than those issued by the state or federal government, and Chicago has not yet said when its mask mandate will be revised to align with the new federal guidance, the newspaper reported.
Businesses are also free to continue requiring masks.
The CDC guidelines don't apply to health care settings, and people are still required to wear masks while riding trains, buses, planes or other forms of public transportation, as well as at airports and bus and train stations.
In the case of California, health authorities said that the state will not "implement the CDC guidelines that allow fully vaccinated people to go without a mask in most situations" before June 15.
However, California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly on Monday stressed that the most populous US state would keep the existing guidance until June 15, meaning "in indoor settings, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status".
California's rules permit fully vaccinated people to go out without wearing a mask, except when they attend crowded gatherings and require people to wear it indoors only when they are meeting other inoculated people.
The case of California however came amid confusing and seemingly contradictory messages from President Joe Biden, the CDC, Governors, state officials and local officials, who have been under pressure to ease mask restrictions.
Since some supermarket chains including Trader Joe's, Costco and Walmart have dropped the mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers, Ghaly said on Monday these businesses need to align with the current state rules.
One of the worst-hit states in the US, California has so far reported 3,665,904 confirmed coronavirus cases and 61,510 deaths. The state has vaccinated 34,536,581 residents in total.
(Based on IANS inputs)