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Oregon, Washington lifting mask mandates for fully vaccinated people

People must wait two weeks after completing a vaccine series to be considered fully vaccinated.

PORTLAND, Ore. — People who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will no longer need to wear a mask or physical distance in most indoor and outdoor public spaces in Oregon and Washington, the governors in those states announced Thursday, following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"It's another sign that if we all continue to do our part, the pandemic is coming closer to an end," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. 

The CDC's guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters. 

Under the guidance, people must wait two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or their first dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.

Oregon and Washington are working to update their guidance for businesses to lift masking and distancing requirements by verifying a person's vaccination status, according to both governors.

The new guidance will not apply to schools yet.

Businesses may continue to enforce masking and distancing rules if they choose. Representatives for New Seasons Market, Fred Meyer and QFC grocery stores told KGW they will continue requiring masks inside their stores for the time being.

"As we have throughout the pandemic, we are reviewing current safety practices, the CDC’s latest guidance, and soliciting feedback from associates to guide the next phase of our policy," said a Fred Meyer Spokesperson.

Earlier on Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washington state's economy is on track to fully reopen by June 30. Gov. Brown has not given an estimated date for fully reopening but said most restrictions will be lifted once 70% of residents 16 and older have gotten at least one dose. 

The news comes on the same day that younger people age 12-15 were allowed to get vaccinated in both states. Vaccines are also easier to get than at any point to date, with many places offering shots without an appointment. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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