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DANVILLE, Va. — The mask mandate for the State of Virginia was lifted on May 28 in order to comply with current CDC Guidelines.

The CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in most indoor settings, except on public transit, in healthcare facilities and in congregate settings. Those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks in all settings.

Current guidelines also give businesses the ability to require masks in their establishments. Employees who work in certain business sectors—including restaurants, retail, fitness, personal care and entertainment—must continue to wear masks unless fully vaccinated.

O’Kelly’s manager Terrance Hairston told the Star-Tribune that, since all unvaccinated employees are required to wear a mask, the restaurant was checking employee’s vaccination cards for proof of vaccination.

“We are following CDC guidelines, if the employee is vaccinated then wearing a mask is not required,” Hairston said.

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission recently issued some guidance on this topic, saying that employers are permitted to ask employees whether they’ve been vaccinated and also to ask for proof of vaccination.

The same document also stated that if an employee cannot get vaccinated for COVID-19 because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, and there is no reasonable accommodation possible, then it would be lawful for the employer to exclude the employee from the workplace.

Another restaurant also requiring proof of vaccination is Tokyo Grill located in Danville. The policy is in place for employees who wish to not wear a mask.

“If they don’t want to wear a mask, then they have to show proof of vaccination,” said Peter Zhu, Manager.

On the other hand, San Marcos Mexican restaurant in Chatham is requiring all employees to wear a mask, even if fully vaccinated. Assistant Manager Justin said that his superior wanted to ensure the safety of all employees.

“He wanted to protect us and our families,” he said. “He didn’t want to take the risk.”

Gretna's Dairy Queen location paid for COVID-19 vaccines to host a drive for their employees in order to facilitate vaccinations. A manager told the Star-Tribune that masks are required for unvaccinated employees, but that most employees were in fact vaccinated. 

As stated in the Gov. Ralph Northam’s May 14 statement, 63 percent of Virginia adults have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. That is nearly 7 million vaccines administered.

Staff Writer

Neftali Cabrales is a staff writer for the Star-Tribune. Neftali holds a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina and is a native of Cuba.

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