A sign like this one, seen on a downtown Juneau business may soon come down as the city announced an end to the mask mandate for people who are fully vaccinated. (Peter Segall/Juneau Empire)

A breath of fresh air

City updates its mask mandate following CDC guidelines

This story has been updated to reflect that the change is now effective.

If you’re fully vaccinated, in most cases you can leave your mask at home while you are out and about in the City and Borough of Juneau.

On Friday, city officials updated the city’s risk mitigation measures, effective immediately, to follow the guidance issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask except in certain settings,” said City Manager Rorie Watt in a phone interview.

Full vaccination is achieved two weeks after receiving the final vaccine dose.

New CDC guidelines: Vaccinated people can largely ditch masks

Mila Cosgrove, deputy city manager, and COVID-19 Emergency Operations Incident Commander, welcomed the news.

“I think it’s fantastic,” she said in a phone interview Friday. “I hope it moves people off the fence and more people get vaccinated.”

Watt said that masks will still be required on Capital Transit based on the CDC guidelines for wearing masks on public transportation. Masks will also be needed in Juneau International Airport, school district buildings and Bartlett Regional Hospital, according to the city. Per CDC guidance, masks are also needed in prisons and homeless shelters.

Watt expects a mixed reaction to the news.

“A lot of people are going to be excited. A lot of people are going to be worried. With COVID, we’ve all ridden the bronco for a year. COVID is still here, and we are still trying to vaccinate people,” he added.

Despite the shift, Watt encourages people to consider the viewpoints of others when deciding whether to wear a mask.

“We still have different views, and we ask people to be respectful of those viewpoints. If I’m in a situation where someone is uncomfortable, I’ll put on a mask,” he said.

CBJ adds flexibility, adopts tiered COVID mitigation strategies

Watt was able to issue the policy change based on an ordinance passed in late April, allowing him to adjust mitigation measures based on advice from the CDC.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly will ratify the changes and allow for public comment during the ratification process. The assembly’s next meeting is scheduled for May 24 and will be the first in-person meeting in more than a year.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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