Edwards: Vaccinated people no longer need masks in most situations

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

Louisiana residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear face coverings indoors in most situations, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday.

The announcement followed a similar declaration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Masks still should be worn in some environments, such as in educational facilities, on public transit, in correctional settings and in health care facilities the Louisiana Department of Health regulates, Edwards said.

Businesses still are free to require masks. Local governments retain the ability to have tighter restrictions than the state’s, including a mask mandate.

“LDH has reviewed the CDC guidance that says anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small – without wearing a mask or physically distancing, and agrees,” a statement from the governor’s office said. “The medical research is clear: if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Most of Louisiana’s population is not yet fully vaccinated, though more than 70% of residents who are at least age 65 have completed their vaccine series, state health officials said. The governor’s statement does not suggest vaccinated people should carry proof of their status, and no mechanism to require or encourage people who are not vaccinated to continue wearing masks is discussed.

Edwards lifted the statewide mask mandate in late April. At that time, however, he said schools, universities, health care facilities, public transit and most state government buildings would continue to require masks. State agency heads could request a waiver, though agencies led by his cabinet appointees would continue to require masks, he said last month.