University lifts outdoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals

May 18, 2021, 7:36 p.m.

Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, Stanford will no longer require face coverings for fully vaccinated individuals outdoors, except when attending crowded outdoor events, the University announced on Tuesday. Santa Clara County will also move into the least-restrictive yellow tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Wednesday, amid record-low positivity rates and rising vaccination rates.

The lifting of county and University restrictions comes as Stanford reported zero new positive cases on campus for the first time since October in this week’s COVID Dashboard update. The ASSU also reported that 71% of Stanford undergraduates living on campus have been vaccinated.

“The county’s announcement is welcomed news and illustrates the importance of being fully-vaccinated,” University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote. “We will review the new county guidance to determine how it may impact our on-campus COVID protocols and we will provide any updated information to the community.”

The lifting of the University mask mandate still requires employees to wear masks any time they are within six feet of other individuals and in shared settings. University-sponsored travel restrictions have also moved from the “restricted” phase to the “limited” phase, allowing for international travel with approval and domestic travel without approval for faculty, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. 

Additionally, all temporary community members such as visiting scholars and residential summer program participants “with a regular presence on campus” will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 beginning June 21. 

Under the county shift to yellow tier, gyms, movie theaters and family entertainment centers can increase capacity to 50%, and bars that don’t serve food can reopen indoors at 25% capacity, according to yellow tier guidelines. In restaurants, up to eight diners are allowed per table. The capacity will also increase for outdoor activities including live events, professional sports games and amusement parks. 

A new health order will also replace the Revised Risk Reduction Order instated in October, no longer requiring businesses to maximize the number of staff who are teleworking or to implement social distancing protocols, according to Cody. The health order will require employers to determine the vaccination status of employees within 14 days and define safety rules for unvaccinated employees. Workplaces and schools are expected to continue reporting cases to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Santa Clara County Director of Public Health Sara Cody said in a Tuesday press conference that the county has a 0.5% positivity rate, the lowest rate recorded throughout the course of the pandemic. Over 75% of residents ages 16 and older in the county have received at least one shot, and nearly 60% are fully vaccinated. Cody cited research that the vaccine is effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 as one of the reasons for lifting restrictions.

“Let’s all look forward to a wonderful summer, where we can all be and feel a bit safer as we return to normal,” Cody said.

Esha Dhawan '23 is the Vol. 260 Spotlight Editor and was previously a Vol. 258/259 desk editor for science & technology news. She is a human biology major and creative writing minor from Atlanta, GA. Contact her at edhawan 'at'

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