St. Louis Ends Mask Mandates for Vaccinated People

click to enlarge St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones announced the end of mask mandates for vaccinated people. - SCREENSHOT/FACEBOOK LIVE
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones announced the end of mask mandates for vaccinated people.

St. Louis and St. Louis County are dropping mask mandates for vaccinated adults in response to new federal guidance and decreasing COVID-19 cases.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and County Executive Sam Page announced the news today in a joint press conference at City Hall.

"We're in a big, big moment in our community," Page said. "This is a big step forward."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a surprise announcement on Thursday that it was no longer necessary for vaccinated people to wear masks indoors, leaving local governments and businesses to decide for themselves whether to keep mask mandates in place.

Missouri never issued a statewide mask mandate, despite repeated pleas from health-care workers and administrators. As a result, the state became a puzzle of rules, varying county to county, and even city to city as infections and deaths soared. St. Louis and St. Louis County maintained two of the strongest sets of COVID-19 protocols in Missouri.

Less than two weeks ago, the city and county aligned their policies to allow bars and restaurants to resume full capacity — or as close as they could come with social distancing measures in place. This morning's announcement regarding vaccinated adults was another move toward a full reopening, although both Jones and Page stressed that unvaccinated people would still be required to wear masks. They also warned that everyone should remain cautious.

"We're not out of the woods," Jones said. "We're not out of the pandemic."

Page said most people have willingly followed the rules put in place to slow the virus' spread, but he and Jones made a point of asking those who want to ditch their masks to respect the people and businesses that don't. Businesses will be able to ask customers if they have been vaccinated and require those who haven't to wear masks under the new rules, although they'll likely have to rely on customers to tell them the truth about their vaccine status.

"If you’re vaccinated and still want to wear [a mask], keep wearing it," Jones said. "I know I will. If you’re vaccinated and don’t want to wear one, please don’t pass judgment on those who do."

The majority of people in the city and county are not vaccinated yet. Only 30 percent of people in the city and 35 percent in the county are fully vaccinated. Jones and Page urged those who haven't gotten their shots to take advantage of ample supply at sites across the metro region.

FEMA is operating a mass vaccination site every day at the Dome at America's Center. Walk-ins are welcome, although pre-registering speeds up the process.
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