On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines regarding fully vaccinated Americans. According to the new guidelines, fully vaccinated Americans may no longer need to wear masks, indoors and outdoors, in most cases. The updated guidelines are encouraging, reflecting the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and the increasing numbers of vaccinations administered to Americans. These changes are one more step on the path to normalcy.
What does this mean for local churches? The Bishop and Cabinet, along with the new Post-COVID ReEntry Group (PRG), will be reviewing our policies to see how the new guidelines might be incorporated in our approach if and when they become law in the Commonwealth. At the same time, we want to remind the members of the Virginia Conference that the CDC serves as an advisory agency to the government. Many Governors will issue or modify existing Executive Ordersbased on the recommendations provided by CDC. However, until Governor Northam updates the current Executive Order 72 or issues a new Executive Order on this topic, the law is clear that we are expected to wear masks indoors at this time. The Technical Assistance Manual (TAM) has been consistent in providing guidelines that are compatible with the Governor’s Executive Orders.
The CDC guidance for fully vaccinated persons includes this statement: “You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” We continue to ask churches to abide by the TAM as we wait for revisions to Executive Order 72 or any new Executive Order.
Today’s announcement is good news and welcome news and we know church leaders are anxious to move into a post-pandemic environment. The new guidelines underscore how important vaccination has been in moving us to this day. In light of this news we are encouraging all persons who can do so safely to get vaccinated. Expect more and frequent announcements as the Cabinet and PRG team monitor the changes and update the Technical Assistance Manual in the near future.
We appreciate your resilience and partnership in keeping our members safe, as we continue our mission of ‘making disciples’ in this world!
Bishop, Cabinet, & the PRG Team