In a move that will send the country back toward pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.
The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues – even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
“Today, CDC is updating our guidance for fully vaccinated people,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday at a White House COVID-19 briefing. “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or fully vaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things you have stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
People can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel. You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States. You do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
People will still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States. You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel. You do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. However, if you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
The new recommendations come more than a year after the CDC first recommended that Americans should wear masks to protect against spreading or catching the coronavirus. At that time, the U.S. was logging more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths a day.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the last dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. That gives the immune system enough time to develop antibodies against the virus. According to CDC data, more than 35 percent of the population has now been fully vaccinated.