The CDC Just Announced New Mask Rules for Vaccinated People

published Apr 27, 2021
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If you’re fully vaccinated or almost there, get ready to enjoy that delightful feeling of fresh air on your face. On Tuesday, President Biden and federal health officials announced that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks outdoors during small gatherings, the New York Times reports.

“Beginning today, gathering with a group of friends, in a park, going for a picnic,” Biden announced outside the White House, calling it a step toward “life in America closer to normal… As long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without wearing a mask.”

Biden’s announcement comes alongside today’s new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s new guidelines state that activities like walking, running, or biking outdoors, either alone or with members of your household, are considered among the safest you can do and you can do them without wearing a mask (whether you’re vaccinated or not). Small outdoor gatherings, like a picnic with vaccinated friends in a park or dining outdoors, are also ranked “safest” for skipping a mask. At small outdoor gatherings with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, anyone who is not yet vaccinated should wear a mask, but vaccinated people can go without the mask.

The lift on mask restrictions doesn’t refer to all outdoor activities. Events that are outdoors but crowded, such as music festivals or sporting events, still require the use of a mask, even if you’re vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people should also continue to wear a mask indoors in just about any situation where they’re out in public — the barber or hair salon, museums, stores, etc.

The change in restrictions is due to several factors. Not only are 37 percent of people over the age of 18 in the U.S. fully vaccinated, but the risk of contracting the virus outdoors is much lower than the risk of contracting it indoors.

“There’s increasing data that suggests that most of transmission is happening indoors rather than outdoors — less than 10 percent of documented transmission in many studies have occurred outdoors,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing on Tuesday, People reported. “We also know that there’s almost a 20-fold increased risk of transmission in the indoor setting.”

The decline in case rates also served as a determining factor for the CDC’s guidance. Still, they encourage all people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“If you are fully vaccinated, things are much safer for you than those who are not yet fully vaccinated,” said Walensky, People reported

President Biden echoed her sentiments, telling people to “go get your vaccination now; it’s free, and convenient. Ninety percent of the American people live within five miles of the site where you can get a vaccination. Do this — and we will do this.”

In a series of tweets, the CDC released multiple charts explaining the levels of safety for a variety of events. Small outdoor gatherings were deemed the safest for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, in accordance with their guidelines throughout the pandemic. 

“People fully vaccinated against #COVID19 can participate in some indoor events safely, without much risk,” the CDC wrote. “Outdoor visits and activities are safer than indoor activities.”