Phoenix Relaxes Mask Mandate, Lets Businesses Set Rules

Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - 6:42pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - 6:47pm

You may see fewer people wearing masks in Phoenix. On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously agreed to amend its rules for face coverings to follow updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The change means people who are fully vaccinated can resume most activities without wearing a mask. Face coverings are still required for city employees and in city buildings. The city manager will consider policy changes based on the council’s action. 

Masks are also required on airplanes, buses and light rail. On April 30, the Transportation Security Administration issued a directive requiring masks for everyone (including vaccinated people) using airports, buses and rail systems through Sept. 13.

Councilwoman Betty Guardado said businesses can still require masks, “I know that there’s a lot of different businesses that are nervous for their workers, knowing that not a majority of people are vaccinated.”

Vice Mayor Carlos Garcia urged people to be respectful. “Some folks might be ready to come back and not wear a mask and some might still want to be wearing masks and ask you to do that in their place of business and I hope we all can continue to respect each other and continue to work together to work through this pandemic.”

The CDC says fully vaccinated generally means two weeks after getting the second dose in a two-dose series, like Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after a single dose like Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen.  

“From the very start of the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Phoenix has made its decisions based on data and science,” Mayor Kate Gallego wrote. “ We’ve worked closely with experts and followed the guidance of the CDC to ensure we are providing our residents with the very best information available. Our decision to require masks last summer made an enormous, quantifiable difference in reducing the number of cases of COVID-19 in our community.”

Vaccines are available at state-run sites and pharmacies at no cost to people with or without insurance. 

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