CDC says those fully vaccinated can lose mask outdoors, except in crowds
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — California is planning to ease its outdoor mask wearing guidelines following Tuesday’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said fully vaccinated people don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers.
Those who are not vaccinated will be allowed to go outside without masks in some situations, too.
“We have reviewed and support the CDC’s new masking recommendations and are working quickly to align California’s guidance with these common sense updates,” said State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón, director of CDPH. “While more than 50% of Californians 16-plus are partially or fully vaccinated, many others are still not vaccinated, and the threat of variants remains. We continue to urge all eligible Californians to get vaccinated to help us move past this pandemic.”
For the last year, Americans have been advised to wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of one another.
The ease in guidelines comes as more than half of U.S. adults — or about 140 million people — have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than one-third have been fully vaccinated.
“Today, I hope, is a day when we can take another step back to the normalcy of before,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what you can’t do. Today, I am going to tell you some of the things you can do, if you are fully vaccinated.”
Walensky said the decision was driven by rising vaccination numbers; declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths; and research showing that less than 10% of documented instances of transmission of the virus happened outdoors.
The CDC says that whether they are fully vaccinated or not, people do not have to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike or run alone or with members of their household. They can also go maskless in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people.
But unvaccinated people — defined as those who have yet to receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson formula — should wear masks at small outdoor gatherings that include other unvaccinated people, the CDC says. They also should keep their faces covered when dining at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households.
And everyone, fully vaccinated or not, should keep wearing masks at crowded outdoor events such as concerts or sporting events, the CDC says.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
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