As mask requirements loosen, experts remind people to think of vulnerable populations

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Some of us still grab our masks to head out the door since a lot of places still require them.

Experts say if fully vaccinated, you should be safe doing what’s opened up — such as attending a Hurricanes game since masks are required, going to the store without a mask or gathering outside with friends.

“It ultimately becomes a personal choice,” said Dr. David Weber, distinguished professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. “The risk is always lower outdoors than indoors.”

However, Dr. Weber said it’s difficult to know whether those around you who are also not wearing masks are truly vaccinated. He recommended thinking about anyone in your life who’s immunocompromised or unable to get the vaccine.

“As you know, just as you’re in your car now driving around and I would bet that it wouldn’t take long for you to realize that not many people follow speed limits, as an example,” said Dr. Weber. “I help occasionally babysit my 2-year-old granddaughter, who of course cannot be vaccinated at the moment, even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’m still wearing a mask when I’m indoors.”

The highest-risk situations remain ones where you’re close to others for long periods of time, like in movie theaters or restaurants.

“It largely depends on how sure you are in your venue where you go that everybody has been vaccinated,” said Dr. Weber.

He said we should know by the end of June and mid-July whether loosening restrictions was the right choice.

“If the rates continue to go down, which they should as more and more people became vaccinated…the new changes and opening things up was the right decision,” said Dr. Weber.

More than a third of the state’s population is currently fully vaccinated.

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