Masks recommended but not required in Austin — even for unvaccinated

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health is no longer mandating wearing masks, to fall in line with Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order about masks. The newest revision of the Austin Health Authority Rules now recommends but does not require that partially-vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks “in most situations.”

Abbott’s order prohibits governmental entities, which includes public health authorities, from requiring masks.

“We choose to focus our energy on fighting COVID in our community. We choose to focus on the health and safety of all of you, our residents,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Austin chief medical officer and interim Austin-Travis County health authority. “There is now more urgency to be vaccinated as protection measures will not be required.”

Recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated, which in Travis County is nearly half of the eligible population, are:

  • Resume normal activities without a mask unless it’s required by a business
  • Resume domestic travel without testing and quarantining before and after travel
  • Resume international travel without testing, unless required by the destination, and refrain from quarantine upon return
  • Refrain from testing and quarantining after a known expose unless symptoms of COVID-19 develop

Fully vaccinated means a person has a full course of vaccine treatment, either two Moderna or Pfizer shots or one Johnson & Johnson shot, plus a 14-day waiting period afterward for the antibodies to build.

In order to reach herd immunity, APH said 70% of the population needs to be fully vaccinated.

“I am confident that the guidelines provided regarding the ongoing wearing of masks, particularly for unvaccinated individuals and partially vaccinated individuals, is based upon the current science and consistent with CDC guidance,” Escott said. “Masks still play an important role in further reducing the spread of COVID-19 and will remain a recommended practice for those who are not fully vaccinated, at least until we reach herd immunity.”

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