The state is putting its COVID-19 prevention efforts into the hands of Vermonters.

As of March 14, citing “low levels of severe disease and effective tools to prevent COVID-19, Vermonters should consider their own circumstances and risk in deciding what precautions to take — including wearing a mask around others — to protect themselves, loved ones and those at higher risk from COVID-19.”

Previously the guidance recommended wearing a mask in all indoor public spaces.

Vermonters are still urged to be vaccinated against the virus.

“Although COVID isn’t going away, we’re in a much different place than we were not too long ago, and we know how to protect ourselves,” Gov. Phil Scott said. “Vaccination remains the best tool in our toolbox to protect ourselves and others, and we continue to encourage anyone who hasn’t to get vaccinated and boosted.”

The new protocol also calls for people who test positive to isolate for five days — even if you are vaccinated or never have symptoms. Recommendations no longer include a negative test to end isolation or masking for an additional five days after isolation.

For people who are considered close contacts of someone who tested positive, quarantine is no longer recommended. However, those who are unvaccinated or not up to date on vaccines should get tested around five days after the contact. Any close contacts should get tested if they develop symptoms, regardless of vaccination status.

These changes do not apply to health care settings, including long-term care facilities, or other congregate settings that follow separate guidance.

Health commissioner Dr. Mark Levine emphasized, however, that low levels of virus is not the same as no virus, and that we need to remain prepared in case the virus changes again.

“If we have learned anything about COVID-19 over these past two years, it is that the virus is good at evolving,” Levine said. “With many surges and new variants, nearly all of us have been affected in some way, and too many have suffered serious illness and tragic losses.”

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