CDC relaxes indoor mask guidance for fully vaccinated people
In the biggest endorsement for the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines to date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance regarding indoor mask requirements.
The announcement states that fully vaccinated people can now avoid wearing a mask or face covering in most indoor environments, even when in public.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky celebrated the update with a video briefing on Thursday:
"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment, when we can get back to some sense of normalcy. Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines, and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated."
Masks must still be worn in healthcare settings, correctional facilities and homeless shelters, along with any location where masks are "required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws."
The CDC confirmed that "all travelers are required to wear a mask on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations."
Additionally, the CDC shared guidance detailing the types of activities fully vaccinated can participate in without a mask, compared with unvaccinated people, who still face an extraordinary risk from COVID-19 — in many cases, even when wearing a face covering.
Earlier this week, the CDC noted that it would slightly relax mask requirements for cruisers — specifically, fully vaccinated cruisers would be allowed to sit mask-free in lounge chairs and around outdoor pools. That move follows an announcement that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most outdoor settings, which took effect in April.
The CDC clarified that the new guidance only applies to fully vaccinated individuals — anyone who has not yet completed their vaccine must still wear a face covering, as previously required. Individual businesses can continue to enforce their own requirements, as well.