Unmasking America: How businesses are responding after CDC announced fully-vaccinated people do not have to wear masks indoors

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that fully-vaccinated people do not have to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

This change comes after increased COVID-19 vaccination efforts, and as cases across the country are their lowest levels since last September.

After the CDC made the announcement, President Biden addressed the country.

RELATED: Coronavirus: CDC eases mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated Americans

He said, “If you’re fully vaccinated you can take your mask off. You’ve earned the right to do something that Americans are known for all around the world: greeting others with a smile. A smile.”

Boutiques like Jaffi’s in Atlantic Beach Town Center now say masks are optional and this change is a positive sign.

“Most of our employees are already vaccinated, but we wear masks not just for us, but for the comfort and safety of others. So we will probably continue to wear them for a while, but we won’t make them a requirement for our customers,” Jaffi’s owner Emilie Christenson said.

Christenson also said she wants to let her customers make their own decisions on wearing masks, which is why they’ve decided to make them optional.

Right now, about 35% of Florida is fully vaccinated, and nearly 30% of Duval County has gotten the shot.

Action News Jax Robert Grant asked Publix and Southeastern Grocers, Winn-Dixie’s parent company, if they were making any changes after the CDC’s announcement. Here are their responses:

Publix:

“We are aware of the latest information shared by the CDC regarding facemasks and are awaiting additional guidance before implementing potential changes.”

Joe Caldwell, Director of Corporate Communications and Government Relations for Southeastern Grocers:

As Southeastern Grocers continues to navigate through the complexities of the pandemic, we have progressively shaped our operations and will continue to update our policies, including mask mandates, to protect those who depend upon us.

We are currently reviewing our store safety protocols and will share more details as soon as they are finalized. We ask our customers for their patience and flexibility as we continue to safeguard the health and well-being of our communities.

Action News Jax Medical Expert Dr. Michelle Aquino said it’s the right time to loosen the mandate.

The percent of positive cases in Jacksonville is 3.4%, which Dr. Aquino said is very low.

She added that the key is getting vaccinated because the science shows your chance of getting the virus after is low.

Bailey Husker, Action News Jax

Bailey Husker is a digital content producer and assignment editor for Action News Jax.