Those who have been fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks or maintain social distancing in most indoor and outdoor settings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday.
“We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing.
Walensky added caveats to the new guidance, saying those who are traveling by plane or public transportation, or who work in or visit hospitals, nursing homes and prisons should continue to wear a mask even if they are vaccinated. The CDC also said vaccinated people must continue to abide by existing state, local or tribal laws and regulations and follow local rules for businesses and workplaces.
The CDC also relaxed their testing recommendations saying, “fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter.”
Walensky said the new guidelines do not apply to the unvaccinated. “You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or spreading the disease to others. You should still mask and you should get vaccinated right away” the CDC director said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said those who still want to wear masks are free to do so.
“People have to make their own personal choice,” Fauci said. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an individual who has a certain level of risk aversion, as we know the risk is extremely low of getting infected whether you’re indoors or outdoors. But there are those people who don’t want to take that bit of a risk and there’s nothing wrong with that and they shouldn’t be criticized.”