Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, more U.S. cities and states are sparing persistent restrictions on COVID-19 as vaccination rates increase and the number of infections decreases.
Massachusetts lifted the mask requirement Saturday, a day after New Jersey resigned. In New York City and Chicago, officials reopened public beaches, though cool winds and temperatures drove away crowds.
“Welcome back, Chicago,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a video ad. “The lake is open.”
Chicago’s Navy Pier also reopened retail stores and restaurants, carnival rides and tourist boats and cruises after the pandemic that forced it to close for months during the busy tourist destination.
It is another sign of progress that reflects increasingly positive health data. On Saturday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 802 new confirmed and probable infections, the second total of a day lower in the past six months.
For companies across the country, the improved outlook and the long holiday weekend provided an opportunity to welcome customers to shop in person.
Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, opened its doors to customers for the first time in nearly 14 months on Friday. Masks are still required.
The business had shifted to Internet orders, sidewalk sales and virtual author events to survive the pandemic.
“We had to be creative, we had to spin,” said store manager Alex Brubaker. “Our readers and our customers have been amazing. It’s a rainy weekend, but the bookstore is full.”
Minnesota on Friday lifted all statewide coronavirus restrictions for bars and restaurants, though local governments may maintain their own rules of social distancing and masking.
Approximately 50% of the U.S. population has now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest numbers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 40% of the population is completely vaccinated.
Vermont has the highest vaccination rate in the country, with nearly 70% of its residents receiving at least one dose. The governor is expected to drop all pandemic-related restrictions once 80% of Vermont’s eligible population has received at least one dose, a milestone the state hopes to reach next week.
In neighboring Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker lifted a mask warrant beginning Saturday, though face-to-face coverage is still required at certain locations, including public transportation. The state also still encourages unvaccinated people to wear masks in indoor or public areas.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky threw the first ceremonial pitch at Fenway Park before the Red Sox played the Miami Marlins on the first day Massachusetts dropped the size limits of the crowd. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said about 24,000 tickets were sold.
“Now is such a bright time,” Walensky told reporters, encouraging people to get vaccinated. “It’s been a very long year and we’ve seen really very dark weather … I’m thrilled to be back where we are right now.”
According to Massachusetts officials, 78% of all adult residents have had at least one dose of vaccine.
“New cases have fallen 94% since they peaked in January,” Baker said Friday as he announced the end of the restrictions. “Hospitalizations have dropped by about 90% from their peak. This progress has allowed us to lift all remaining COVID restrictions throughout the community.”
Virginia relaxed its distance and fitness restrictions on Friday. President Joe Biden celebrated progress with a visit to a rock climbing gym in northern Virginia.
Millions of Americans were scheduled to travel over the long weekend and airports reported some of their highest traffic since the pandemic began.
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Citation: More states facilitate persistent virus rules as vaccine rates rise (2021, May 30) recovered on May 30, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-states-ease- lingering-virus-vaccine.html
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