BENNINGTON, Vt. (NEWS10) — Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) announced on Thursday that masks will soon be optional for patients, visitors, and staff. The move made the hospital—and its campuses—one of the first healthcare facilities in the area to lift masking requirements.

The mandate will officially end Monday, April 10. A spokesperson for the medical center said anyone with respiratory symptoms, and those exposed to COVID, will still be required to mask up.

“As community transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses decrease, we are now able to safely move away from requiring healthy individuals from wearing masks in most circumstances,” added Trey Dobson, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. “But anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms will be required to wear a mask.”

SVMC has six campuses in the greater Capital Region, including one in Hoosick Falls. “We have appreciated the cooperation and support of our patients and visitors in maintaining our COVID protocols the past three years,” noted Tom Dee, President and CEO at SVMC. “It has been a team effort keeping our community healthy as possible throughout the pandemic.”