Giving online classes alone in a studio at school, Sheena Graham wears glasses and two layers of masks. She wears glasses not to inadvertently touch her eyes. Yehyun Kim /
Sheena Graham wears glasses and two layers of masks as she teaches an online class. Yehyun Kim /
Sheena Graham wears glasses and two layers of masks as she teaches an online class. Yehyun Kim /

Connecticut residents who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear a mask indoors beginning May 19, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday, following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The mask mandate will be lifted for vaccinated people the same day that other COVID-19 restrictions are being rolled back in the state. Beginning May 19, alcohol can be served without food, meaning bars can reopen; there will be no limit to the number of people who may sit at a table in a restaurant; and the business curfew will be moved back to midnight.

Lamont said state officials will not enforce the rule that requires non-vaccinated people to continue masking indoors. The decision on whether to enforce will be left up to business owners, he said.

“If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask. If you’re not fully vaccinated, you’ve got to wear a mask indoors,” Lamont said. “I hope that people in Connecticut understand why the CDC set those guidelines. They probably make a certain amount of sense, and I think the vast majority of people will follow that.”

The CDC’s new guidance says Americans who are fully vaccinated can stop wearing masks and social distancing indoors. As of Wednesday, about 154 million people in the U.S. had received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the New York Times reported, but only about one-third of the country, or 117.6 million people, had been fully vaccinated.

In Connecticut, 1.98 million people have received a first dose, and 1.62 million, or about 45% of residents, have been fully vaccinated.

Although people who are vaccinated will be able to go without a mask in most places, masks will still be required in airplanes, buses, trains, hospitals, schools, and nursing homes, among other high-risk environments, officials said Thursday.

State health leaders are expected to issue detailed guidance on or before May 19.

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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