“But,” he said with a mask around one ear, “you are still practicing. You’re still in the emotion. “
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On Thursday, the Atlanta-based CDC announced that fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks or social distancing in most indoor and outdoor areas unless required by law or required by local businesses.
The surprise announcement seemed to catch many officials off guard, and some business owners made efforts to reassess their coronavirus security policies with this in mind. Although Governor Brian Kemp never required masks nationwide, a number of cities and counties have introduced their own mandates.
Some companies were quick to abandon their old rules. Trader Joe’s said it would allow vaccinated customers to shop without masks. Atlanta United announced they will be abandoning mask requirements for most fans at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and increasing capacity for the upcoming game against Montreal on Saturday. An Atlanta Braves spokeswoman said the team is evaluating the new CDC guidelines and will most likely get details on Monday.
The High Museum of Art will take people who received the vaccine into most galleries without a mask, a spokesman said.
To illustrate how difficult it can be to follow the new policy, the high said he would not ask guests to prove they were fully vaccinated, instead relying on the “personal responsibility” of each visitor.
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Companies have a lot of leeway to set their own rules for employees and customers in their companies, but they must still follow the guidelines of the Federal Agency for Safety and Health at Work.
“‘Give me a while to digest this'” was the reply Ryan Pernice gave to RO Hospitality staff. His restaurants include Osteria Mattone and Table & Main in Roswell and Coalition Food & Beverage in Alpharetta. Pernice said that he is weighing not only safety factors but also legal consequences.
“Let’s see what we get into before we do a knee-jerk change,” he said.
Several large companies, including Home Depot and Kroger, said they didn’t have plans to change their masking requirements for workers and customers right away. The latter is an incentive for workers to get the COVID vaccine by offering $ 100 bonuses.
“As throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the latest CDC guidelines and asking staff for feedback to guide the next phase of our policy,” said Kroger spokesman Felix Turner.
Mike Gallagher – co-owner of Brick Store and Leons Full Service in Decatur and Good Word Brewing in Duluth – said he is trying to work with CDC guidelines and state and local regulations to weigh what is safer and better for employees and customers. before making any changes. Considering customer comfort levels is also important, he said.
“That was the hardest part: the fear,” said Gallagher. “Whether it is real or not, the fear cannot be denied. It exists and it’s the worst. “
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In fact, some Georgians said they had no intention of abandoning their COVID safeguards despite the changes approved by the CDC. Some pointed to the relatively low vaccination rate in Georgia – not quite a third of the state’s population is fully vaccinated – and the widespread reluctance to vaccinate. One in four Georgians doesn’t plan on getting the vaccine, according to a poll by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this month.
Stockbridge Mayor Pro Tem Elton Alexander said that while he is fully vaccinated, he will continue to wear his mask indoors due to the ongoing threat from COVID-19. He said 22 people had died of COVID-19 in the last four weeks in Henry County, a sign that the virus is still very deadly.
Alexander asked his constituents for their thoughts on the new guidelines on a Facebook page he operated. Most said that they too will continue to mask.
“How would you know if someone else is fully vaccinated or not?” he said. “How can you check that? I’m happy with the instructions on the outside, but there’s still something to do on the inside. “
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Georgia has rarely enforced its coronavirus restrictions over the past year. A Georgia State Patrol spokesman said in April that in response to more than 3,400 calls since the pandemic began, the office has issued only 21 quotes for violating COVID rules.
On Friday, several unions representing retail, grocery and other workers warned their members to step back on the front lines to enforce COVID security.
“At the start of the pandemic, retail workers had to be the mask police. They were verbally abused and in some cases physically abused by some customers who refused to implement the Masking Policy, “Marc Perrone, president of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, told CNN. “Now you really don’t know whether someone has been vaccinated or not … And you (workers) are going to switch from mask police to vaccination police?”
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The CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks when visiting health care facilities, using public transit, or when traveling.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport confirmed that masks will continue to be required “until further notice”. The Transportation Security Administration recently extended President Joe Biden’s mask requirements at airports to September 13th.
In Truist Park, a family put on paper masks as they got out of the car and prepared to enter the retail area. The crowd walking through the neighborhood wore masks, some of which were pulled down as they wandered in the open air, but almost all of them pulled them up as they entered stores.
“Of course I will continue to carry one with me and continue to wear it on a daily basis based on a gut instinct,” said Jason Hugues, who stopped by El Super Pan with his parents to pick up food. “It’s common sense.”
At Gwinnett, many retailers still had signs up asking or asking customers to wear masks, including Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and others. Walmart has announced that vaccinated workers and shoppers will no longer have to wear masks in stores and warehouses unless a community requests it. This policy goes into effect on Tuesday for workers, while vaccinated customers can shop maskless immediately.
At a best buy in Gwinnett, a worker stood at a table at the entrance with a bowl of free masks ready to offer to guests. At VIP Nails & Spa, employees and customers were still wearing masks on Friday, and a manager said the shop’s masking guidelines continue to apply.
“You’re still not completely free,” said Charlie Hodge, a fully vaccinated shopper from Flowery Branch, as he walked to the Barnes & Noble in the Mall of Georgia with his mask on. It was his first trip back to the mall since the pandemic began.
“Better to play it safe,” he said. “I’m just so used to it now.”
Contributors to this article are Michael E. Kanell, Rosalind Bentley, Leon Stafford, Ligaya Figueras, Christopher Quinn, Kelly Yamanouchi, Helena Oliviero, Yamil Berard, and Sarah K. Spencer.