Using Masks to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

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Protect Your Health

Mask Requirements and Recommendations

The Delta variant, which is now the main variant circulating in Virginia, is much more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus. Until more people are vaccinated, wearing masks remains an important tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19. If not fully vaccinated, you should continue to wear a mask indoors and also while in outdoor crowded settings. If fully vaccinated, VDH recommends you follow CDC guidance [Español] to mask in areas of substantial to high transmission

What are current mask requirements and recommendations?

Important! Everyone age 2 and up should wear a mask in indoor public spaces. Virginia communities currently have high levels of COVID-19 transmission.

If you are fully vaccinated:

Indoors

You should wear a mask in indoor public spaces when community spread is substantial or high.

Outside

Masks are generally not needed outside if fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor spaces if they or someone in their household has a compromised immune system.

K-12 Schools

You must wear a mask indoors in K-12 schools. You should wear a mask in indoor child care settings. See below for more guidance on school settings. 

Public Transportation

You must wear masks when using public transportation (airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and rideshares, as well as in indoor transportation hubs, such as airports and stations), per a federal order.

Additional Settings

There are some settings where there are still mask requirements, including some federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations and local business and workplace guidance. 

Healthcare Settings

You should wear a mask in healthcare settings, like a hospital or doctor’s office.

Immune Suppressed

You should wear a mask if you take medication or have a condition that weakens the immune system, unless your healthcare provider advises otherwise.

Correctional Facility or Homeless Shelter

You should wear a mask if you live, work, or visit a correctional facility or homeless shelter.

To Protect Others in Your Household

You might also choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if you or someone in your household has a weakened immune system or is at increased risk for severe disease [Español] or if you live with someone who is not fully vaccinated. 

If you attend or visit PreK-12 schools or work at a business, see the information below.

If you are NOT fully vaccinated:

Indoors

You should wear masks and practice physical distancing in all indoor public settings and in crowded outdoor settings based on CDC recommendations [Español]

Outside

You should wear a mask in crowded outdoor spaces.

K-12 Schools

You must wear a mask indoors in K-12 schools. You should wear a mask in indoor child care settings. See below for more guidance on school settings. 

Public Transportation

You must wear masks when using public transportation (airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and rideshares, as well as in indoor transportation hubs, such as airports and stations), per a federal order.

Additional Settings

There are some settings where there are still mask requirements, including some federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations and local business and workplace guidance. 

Healthcare Settings

You should wear a mask in healthcare settings, like a hospital or doctor’s office.

Immune Suppressed

You should wear a mask if you take medication or have a condition that weakens the immune system, unless your healthcare provider advises otherwise. 

Correctional Facility or Homeless Shelter

You should wear a mask if you live, work, or visit a correctional facility or homeless shelter.

To Protect Others in Your Household

You might also choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if you or someone in your household has a weakened immune system or is at increased risk for severe disease [Español] or if you live with someone who is not fully vaccinated. 

If you attend or visit PreK-12 schools or work at a business, see the information below.

Certain people should not wear a mask

Children under the age of 2 should not wear a mask. Masks should not be put on children under the age of 2. Masks should not be placed on a child (of any age) when the child is sleeping. Find a mask made for children, if possible.

People who have trouble breathing, are incapacitated, or who are otherwise unable to remove the mask without help should not wear a mask.

Masks in Virginia PreK-12 Schools

Masks are required regardless of vaccination status

As of August 12, 2021, a Public Health Order requires all individuals aged two and older to wear masks when indoors at public and private K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. The Order also applies to Pre-K if the program is at a K-12 school.

Masks are not a requirement for outdoor settings

The Order does not apply to outdoor school settings. VDH recommends those who are not fully vaccinated wear masks in crowded outdoor settings or during outdoor activities that involve close contact with other people, but it is not a requirement.

Schools are to use maximum prevention strategies when possible

This Order reinforces the current state law (Senate Bill 1303) that requires Virginia schools, to the maximum extent possible, to use prevention strategies outlined by CDC. CDC’s recommended strategies currently include masking of all teachers, staff, students, and visitors while indoors.

Mask must be worn on school buses

Masks must be worn on school buses, per a federal order.

Masks at the Workplace

In most workplaces, employees are currently required to wear a mask while indoors. Employers and employees must follow mask requirements provided in the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) Standard. See DOLI's FAQ for additional information on the standard.

When am I fully vaccinated?

Fully vaccinated means that it has been at least two weeks after your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This means two weeks after your one dose of Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine or after your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. You are also considered to be fully vaccinated if you have completed a COVID-19 vaccination series with a vaccine that has been authorized for emergency use [Español] by the World Health Organization (such as AstraZeneca/Oxford).