By Katy Savage
As the threat of Covid-19 apparently dwindles, local towns and organizations are rescinding their face mask policies.
The Woodstock Village Trustees and Select Board unanimously voted to no longer require a face mask in public buildings during a joint meeting on Feb. 28.
“Individual businesses may still make their own requirements,” Woodstock Village Trustees chair Jeff Khan said at the meeting. “Hopefully this will stay off the books.”
Rutland Town Select Board also rescinded its face mask policy at a meeting on Feb. 28 following a recommendation Feb. 25 from John Paul Faignant, the town health officer, who is also a Select Board member.
“I would ask any member of the public who is not fully protected against the Covid-19 virus to wear a mask when appropriate,” Faignant said in a statement.
After a season of requiring face masks to be worn in all indoor areas, Vail Resorts, which includes Okemo, made face masks optional for guests starting Feb. 28. Face masks are optional in gondolas, rental areas, base areas, restaurants and lodging properties. Proof of vaccination is still required for dining areas and in public transportation.
“We are relieved to see the massive drop in cases in our communities,” said James O’Donnell, the president of the Mountain Division of Vail Resorts in an announcement. “Positive cases have decreased nearly 80% in our employee population over the last five weeks.”
Meanwhile, Killington Resort, which started requiring face masks in December, has since lifted the mandate as well. Face masks have not been required inside facilities at Killington Resort or on gondolas or chairlifts since Feb. 12.
The local changes come at a time when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new Covid-19 precautions Friday, Feb. 25 allowing people in areas of low and moderate transmission to no longer wear masks inside. (See related story beginning on page 1).
Local data shows there were 70 new Covid cases in Vermont on Feb. 27 and 35 hospitalized due to Covid, continuing a downward trend after a spike in December.
Gov. Phil Scott also ended the universal mask recommendation for public and independent schools that have reach an 80% vaccination threshold on Feb. 28. Just like states, some school districts have chosen to unmask before hitting that threshold, while others are keeping mitigation measures in place despite reaching it.