With the CDC relaxing its mask wearing guidance, Delaware is dropping its mask mandate later this month.
The new CDC guidance says those fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks indoors and outdoors in most situations.
And Gov. John Carney is responding by ending the First State’s mask mandate, effective May 21. The state currently requires people to wear face coverings anytime they are indoors with others outside their household.
Carney is also lifting all remaining outdoor mask requirements.
“It’s clear that the COVID-19 vaccines are extremely safe and protective against infection and serious illness,” said Carney in a statement. “Delawareans who are fully vaccinated have significant protection against this virus and can feel comfortable getting back to the things they loved to do before this pandemic."
CDC guidance still calls for masks in crowded settings, including public transit, planes, schools, health care facilities and congregate settings like prison facilities.
And the state says people not fully vaccinated, including children not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, should continue to wear masks when around others who are outside their immediate household, based on CDC guidance.
But don’t look for Carney to pursue vaccine passports to enforce that guidance. He says focus remains on finding ways to boost the state’s vaccination numbers.
"We want to encourage people to get vaccinated," told Delaware Public Media Friday before the So we're thinking about incentives to do that, and of course in order to have an incentive you need to have somebody prove that they actually did get vaccinated. So that's where we're really going to roll up our sleeves."
Carney notes they will try to be creative to promote vaccinations. The state says, as of Thursday, more than 56% of Delawareans 16 and older have received at least one vaccine shot.
Meanwhile, a change in the CDC’s guidance on COVID protocols for school buses should pave the way for more students to return to in-person instruction this summer.
The CDC advises schools to create distance between children on school buses when it’s possible, and to follow masking and other COVID-19 safety precautions.
Current state rules require schools to maintain a minimum of three feet between students on a bus, resulting in a 23-person cap on school buses.
Gov.Carney says moving to match CDC guidance after the current school ends will be important for helping kids catch-up on lost learning this summer.
"It's safer. We want to incentivize and make it easier for the schools to bring children back in person," said Carney. "Not much will happen between now and the end of the school year, but we got an important summer session coming up where we need to get lots of children doing some academic work during the week and getting them in to schools on buses is an important part of that."
Carney notes the 3 foot spacing has been a limiting factor in returning to full time in school instruction.
And the state still encourages those families who can drive their children to school to do so.