CDC Further Relaxes Mask Guidance for Vaccinated People

Those who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 no longer need to wear a mask outdoors, except when in a crowded environment.

CDC Further Relaxes Mask Guidance for Vaccinated People

Just in time for summer, masks are no longer required for the vaccinated when in an uncrowded environment outside.

Photo by Shutterstock

If you’re fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and are outside and not in a crowd, the CDC says it’s safe to be unmasked.

The agency issued updated recommendations for fully vaccinated people on April 27, building on the guidance released in March stating that fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask and can visit indoors with unvaccinated people, including children, who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease, without wearing masks or distancing.

Now, the agency says it is safe for the fully vaccinated to participate in outdoor activities without a mask, except in “certain crowded settings and venues” such as a live performance, sporting event, or parade. According to a graphic provided the CDC, fully vaccinated people can go mask-free in these settings:

  • While walking, running, hiking, or biking outdoors (including when with members of their household)
  • While attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends, or with a mixture of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • While dining at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households

Fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask in indoor public settings (such as a grocery store, barber shop or hair salon, or museum) and when visiting indoors with unvaccinated people who are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 disease.

The latest do’s and don’ts of mask wearing, according to the CDC.

The latest do’s and don’ts of mask wearing, according to the CDC.

Courtesy of the CDC

In accordance with a CDC order that went into effect on February 2, all travelers, including those who are vaccinated, are required to wear masks while in all transportation hubs and on public modes of transportation, including airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, rideshares, airports, seaports, and train, bus, and subway stations.

People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 when it’s been at least two weeks since they received the second dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine—the three vaccines that have been granted emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of COVID-19.

A research report released on March 29 by the CDC indicates that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are highly effective at preventing infections under real-world conditions. The data indicates that a single dose of either vaccine prevented 80 percent of infections, and two doses prevented 90 percent of infections. The study also found that the vaccines resulted in a high unlikelihood of asymptomatic infection—a common source of transmission.

Fully vaccinated people can travel, CDC says

In early April, the CDC also issued new guidance for fully vaccinated people who want to travel.

“Fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel and do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel,” the agency stated in an April 2 update to its recommendations for fully vaccinated people.

Those who have received their COVID-19 vaccines also no longer need to get tested before leaving the United States, unless it’s required by the destination, and they don’t need to quarantine after arriving back in the United States, the CDC stated.

Fully vaccinated travelers “are less likely to get and spread” COVID-19, the CDC stated. And they “can now travel at low risk to themselves.”

Vaccinated travelers flying into the country from abroad who are age two and older, including returning U.S. citizens and permanent residents, must still provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 prior to boarding their flight—vaccinated or not—per a CDC order that went into effect on January 26.

The CDC recommends that those who are vaccinated and travel domestically don’t get tested for COVID-19 unless required by local authorities, and fully vaccinated travelers do not need to quarantine following domestic travel unless required by the destination. Hawaii, for instance, requires travelers to quarantine for 10 days unless they provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.

The agency still advises international arrivals into the United States to get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after travel, in addition to the required pretravel testing, regardless of vaccination status.

>> Next: These Countries Are Open to Travelers With COVID Vaccines

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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