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What Stage 3 means for masking in Austin

Austin-Travis County announced Thursday it is returning to Stage 3 of its COVID-19 guidelines.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin and Travis County leaders have updated their COVID-19 risk-based guidelines, and you might be wondering what that means when it comes to masking.

If you’re fully vaccinated in Austin, you don’t need to wear a mask at indoor and outdoor private gatherings under the area’s current risk-based guidelines. Fully-vaccinated people can also skip a mask while dining or shopping, unless the business requires it.

Austin-Travis County announced Thursday it is returning to Stage 3 of its COVID-19 guidelines. However, Austin Public Health’s guidance for when vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear a mask remains the same.

Low-risk individuals are advised to wear a mask at private indoor and outdoor gatherings, traveling, dining and shopping if they’re not fully vaccinated under Stage 3.

Fully vaccinated individuals are still advised to wear a mask while traveling. People who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated are recommended to continue wearing a mask.

Those who are high-risk and partially vaccinated or unvaccinated should avoid non-essential indoor and outdoor private gatherings, dining, shopping and travel.

“We need to do what we’re doing today, which is encourage people to go and be vaccinated,” APH Medical Director Dr. Desmar Walkes said. “And for those who are unprotected because they’re either not vaccinated or partially vaccinated, encourage them, strongly recommend to them that they wear masks until they are completely protected.”

The change in guidance comes after APH confirmed four cases of the delta variant in Travis County Wednesday. Leaders also said there’s been a “dramatic increase in COVID cases” over the past few days in Austin at a press conference Thursday morning.

Low-risk individuals are recommended to avoid social gatherings with more than 10 people under Stage 3.

“It is important to read the room and determine the risk to yourself and your family, especially if you are unvaccinated,” Walkes said in a press release. “Especially with school starting in four weeks, we need to continue to work towards getting anyone who is 12 or older vaccinated to protect our community.”

Austin Public Health updated its guidance for each stage to include vaccinated individuals in May.


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