- The CDC says masks are no longer required indoors for vaccinated people.
- I visited Walmart on the first day of relaxed mask rules in New York.
- Going inside without a mask felt strange, but not unsafe.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Some states had already lifted mask requirements, and many others followed after the latest release from the CDC. New Jersey is the only state that will continue to require masks for vaccinated people in most settings.
Businesses also updated their own individual guidelines. Walmart, Costco, Starbucks, and other retailers said that fully vaccinated customers won’t need masks unless required by local guidelines.
New York state, where I live, lifted mask requirements on May 19.
For the first time in over a year, I walked inside a public building without wearing a mask or any other face covering.
It felt so strange, almost like being naked in public.
As I walked past the greeter, who was wearing a mask, I momentarily worried that he was going to chastise me or not let me enter.
The only noticeable difference between today and last week was that signs noting mask requirements were removed from the entrance.
At least 90% of the people I saw during my shopping trip were masked up. Some even wore two masks.
I felt like some other masked customers gave me a second glance or confused look, but it could also be that I was self-conscious for my first mask-less outing in a year.
Walmart says that fully vaccinated workers don’t need to wear masks either, though every single employee I saw was masked up.
I’m so grateful to be fully vaccinated and I felt completely safe going maskless.
The discomfort for me was more about what other people would think about me.
Of course, I know I’m fully vaccinated, but I don’t want other people to think that I’m being selfish, especially workers who have to be there and interact with hundreds of strangers each day.
While I was in the store, I heard several announcements about vaccine availability and walk-in visits. I think it’s likely that many of the other shoppers were vaccinated.
Just like wearing masks took some getting used to, so will not wearing them. I expect to see fewer people wearing masks in about a week.
It’s also worth noting that I went the first morning restrictions lifted. As a reporter, I spend hours tuned into news coverage, but the average shopper stopping to grab a few things might not have seen what date the new rules went into effect.
I’ll continue going maskless where it is safe to do so (most places besides public transportation), but I think I’ll carry a mask in my bag forever, just in case.
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