Surgeon general says mask guidelines should ease for fully-vaccinated Floridians

A public health advisory released Thursday brought sweeping changes to Florida's response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the suggestions about where fully vaccinated Floridians should wear masks. 

Beginning on Friday, at state and federally supported vaccination sites across the state, patients no longer need to provide multiple proofs of residency to get the vaccine. The move paves the way for migrants who may be undocumented to receive the vaccine without fear of retribution regarding citizenship status.  

Under the advisory, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees expanded vaccine eligibility to include non-Florida residents providing goods and services in the state.

The measure also encourages government operations to resume services in-person as all eligible state and local employees get the opportunity to protect themselves from the virus. 

READ: CDC loosens mask guidelines for those fully vaccinated

In the three-page advisory, Dr. Rivkees said the state has enough doses to ensure that anybody who wants one can get one. The surgeon general went on to say the vaccines have proven effective, and that fully protected people should no longer be advised to wear masks or avoid social gatherings.

The advisory made no distinction between indoor and outdoor settings for this change. 

It was not immediately clear what, if any, impact the advisory would have on local mask mandates issued at the county or city level.

Businesses retain the right to keep mask requirements in place in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The vague wording of the update is likely to cause some confusion after the CDC on Tuesday eased its own guidance on masking only for fully vaccinated people outdoors. It's more restrictive than Florida's update.

The CDC continues to urge masks for people in large outdoor crowds, and for everyone indoors -- even those who are fully vaccinated. 

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As of Friday morning, more than 8.7 million Floridians had taken at least one dose of the vaccine, with more than half a million of them in Hillsborough County. Pinellas County had more than 400,000. Polk and Pasco each had more than 200,000 people vaccinated so far.

In the public health advisory, the surgeon general also said the state should not be wasting any doses of the vaccine and that they should continue being distributed "to provide goods and services" that benefit Floridians as well as the state's many visitors. 

LINK: Read the full advisory (PDF):