CDC says many Americans can now go outside without a mask (Pictures: Getty Images)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday announced that Americans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear face masks outdoors, unless they are in a crowd with strangers.
Fully vaccinated Americans can ditch their masks while out walking, running, biking or doing other outdoors activities alone or with members of their household, as well as attending small gatherings in the open.
Even people who have not been vaccinated can go outside without masks in some instances, the CDC said.
‘Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do’,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing. ‘Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated’.
The CDC guidance states that ‘taking steps toward relaxing certain measures for vaccinated people may help improve coronavirus vaccine acceptance and uptake’.
‘Therefore, there are several activities that fully vaccinated people can resume now, at low risk to themselves, while being mindful of the potential risk of transmitting the disease to others’, it states.
With the guidance, the CDC released a color-coded chart displaying activities that fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people can engage in outdoors and indoors, and with or without masks. The safest activities, such as small gatherings outdoors, are marked in green. Less safe activities are marked in yellow like visiting a salon unvaccinated, which the CDC urges masks for. The least safe activities marked in red include going to indoor restaurants, exercise sessions and other gatherings while unvaccinated.
‘The examples today show that when you are fully vaccinated, you can return to many activities safely’, Walensky said, ‘And begin to get back to normal’.
She added: ‘The more people who are vaccinated, the more steps we can take towards spending time with people we love, doing the things we love to enjoy. I hope this message is encouraging for you. It shows just how powerful these vaccines are’.
The new guidance easing rules around masks comes as more than half of American adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and more than one-third are fully vaccinated.
‘It’s the return of freedom’ said Dr Mike Saag, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. ‘It’s the return of us being able to do normal activities again. We’re not there yet, but we’re on the exit ramp. And that’s a beautiful thing’.
However, the CDC is still advising fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks and stay six feet apart at concerts and sporting events, large public spaces and indoor movie theaters and shopping malls.
‘I welcome less restrictive guidelines about masking outdoors’, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech. ‘We know that transmission outdoors is much less likely to occur than indoors, because the virus cannot accumulate in the air outdoors. It’ll become rapidly diluted’.
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