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New Mexico relaxes mask rules for the fully vaccinated

May 14, 2021 GMT
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham discusses a planned $3.5 billion investment by Intel in the company's New Mexico operations during a news conference Monday, May 3, 2021 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The company will modernize its Rio Rancho plant so can begin producing an advanced packaging system that will allow for stacking tiles for better microchip performance. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham discusses a planned $3.5 billion investment by Intel in the company's New Mexico operations during a news conference Monday, May 3, 2021 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The company will modernize its Rio Rancho plant so can begin producing an advanced packaging system that will allow for stacking tiles for better microchip performance. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham discusses a planned $3.5 billion investment by Intel in the company's New Mexico operations during a news conference Monday, May 3, 2021 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The company will modernize its Rio Rancho plant so can begin producing an advanced packaging system that will allow for stacking tiles for better microchip performance. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has adopted guidance on face masks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or outside in most cases, under a revised public health order issued Friday.

The state Department of Health announced that masks are no longer required of fully vaccinated people in many public settings, though businesses and workplaces may still make face coverings a requirement for all regardless.

“Individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated, should continue to wear well-fitted masks where required by localities, tribal entities, and individual businesses,” the agency said.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said it’s important to keep a mask on hand, but he also sounded a celebratory note. “I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to seeing the smiles of friends and neighbors across our city again,” he said in a statement.

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New Mexico is among more than a dozen states to quickly embrace new federal guidelines on masks. Schools will continue to require staff, teachers and students to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking, the Public Education Department announced separately.

“The mask requirement is unchanged for school settings for now due to the potential spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated students,” the agency said in a statement.

The state has been gradually relaxing aggressive restrictions on gatherings in public, workplaces and recreational facilities based on each county’s coronavirus infection statistics.

A broad economic reopening has been linked to a 60% statewide vaccination rate among eligible residents ages 16 and over, a goal state health officials hope to reach before the end of June. As of Thursday, 51% of eligible residents have been fully vaccinated, not including youths under 16.

“Getting vaccinated is the ticket to a safe and healthy COVID-free future,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “We are close and getting closer. But that all depends on New Mexicans continuing to protect themselves and their community by getting vaccinated.”

Masks are still required regardless of vaccination status in health care settings and at correctional facilities, homeless shelters and on public transportation.

The state’s revised public health order still says that “all New Mexicans should be staying at their homes for all but the most essential activities and services.”

Health officials say fully vaccinated status comes two weeks after the final shot of a single- or double-dose vaccine.