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Austin Officials Welcome New CDC COVID-19 Guidance, Await Updated Local Rules

People wear masks outside on the UT Austin campus.
Gabriel C. Pérez
People wear masks outside on the UT Austin campus.

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Austin and Travis County leaders are welcoming new federal guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated and say updated local guidance should be coming soon.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks and social distancing indoors and outdoors, with a few exceptions.

“We should celebrate that the evidence is showing the vaccines work even better than anticipated and that, once vaccinated, you have significant protection,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement. “This is what all our hard work has earned us.”

But people are still supposed to follow federal, state and local laws, as well as business and workplace requirements regarding masks and social distancing.

Austin is in stage 3 of Austin Public Health’s risk-based guidelines, which still advise people, even vaccinated ones, to wear masks indoors. Local health authority rules also require businesses to require patrons wear a face covering. Those rules are set to expire Tuesday.

“We anticipate that Dr. Escott will be revising his rules shortly,” Adler said, referring to the city’s chief medical officer, who crafted the rules.

Officials are hoping the CDC's announcement encourages people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Since more people will not be wearing masks, it makes it even more important to get vaccinated,” Adler said.

Getting a vaccine has gotten easier as supply has increased and demand has dwindled. People can now get vaccinated at many locations without needing to sign up for an appointment.

“Unvaccinated folks continue to be vulnerable to this virus, so I urge anyone who is still unvaccinated to remain healthy and help keep our COVID-19 numbers low by getting a vaccine as soon as possible,” Travis County Judge Andy Brown said in a statement. “People over the age of 12 can now get a vaccine anywhere in Travis County. If you need help finding a vaccine, call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000.”

Marisa Charpentier is KUT's assistant digital editor. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @marisacharp.
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