Mask Guidelines Confusion in Buffalo
The good news; Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that effective Wednesday, May 19th, New York State would be adopting the CDC's new guidance for mask-wearing and social distancing for vaccinated people. Great! This is a major sign that life is returning to some sense of pre-covid normality. Soon we'll be able to walk into Tappo or Dinosaur BBQ for dinner without wearing a mask. It's not over yet, but we're getting there, however slowly.
Masks are still recommended for everyone if you're in a crowded indoor setting like hospitals, airplanes, buses, or trains.
Those with compromised immune systems, like myself, are being directed to speak with our doctors about masks and social distancing. I'm pretty sure I don't have to ask him at this point, because I'm pretty positive I know the answer, but I'm going to ask anyway.
According to the CDC, if you're fully vaccinated, it's safe to do these activities without a mask -
Walk, run, wheelchair roll, or bike outdoors with members of your household
Attend a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends
Attend a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people
Dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households
Attend a crowded, outdoor event, like a live performance, parade, or sports event
Visit a barber or hair salon
You can see the rest of the list HERE.
While all that makes sense to me, there are still some questions that need to be answered. In part, because Governor Cuomo relaxed restrictions, but also because while some businesses have said they will continue requiring masks, just as many others have said they will no longer require vaccinated customers to wear masks. For instance, Dash's Market has decided that starting Wednesday, they'll drop their mask mandate for everyone. Customers and employees, vaccinated and unvaccinated. While Tops Markets, at the time of this writing, hasn't decided what their course of action will be. There are many other businesses here in Buffalo grappling with this as well.
All of it inevitably leads to the question, how will they know if you're vaccinated or not? Who's in charge of figuring that out? My guess is no one. My guess is that like before when masks were recommended but not mandated, it's going to be free for all and only those who feel at-risk or are concerned for their own health will wear masks.
Since Governor Cuomo has left it up to the businesses and private venues, how exactly do they plan to weed out the vaccinated vs. the non-vaccinated?
Back in March, New York State did introduce a digital pass that you can download in order to have proof of your vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. If you haven't heard of it, it's called the “Excelsior Pass,” and it's available for anyone who wants it, including businesses. Full disclosure, I have it on my phone. But since its inception, I haven't heard much else about it, let alone been asked for proof of vaccination. Maybe now that all the restrictions are being eased, more people will start to use it.
Either way, there are still more questions than there are answers. But I guess that's just life in Covid-World.