The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines Tuesday on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to do so anymore unless they are in a large crowd of strangers, adding that even those who are not vaccinated can go outside without masks in some situations, too.
For most of the past year, the CDC had been advising Americans to wear masks outdoors if they are within six feet of one another.
The change comes as more than half of U.S. Adults, approximately 140 million people, have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated.
The CDC 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 new recommendations say 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.
Unvaccinated people, defined by the CDC 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 including other unvaccinated people. They also should keep their faces covered when dining at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households.
The new guidance recommends that everyone, whether fully vaccinated or not, should continue wearing masks at crowded outdoor events such as concerts or sporting events,.
The agency continues to recommend masks at indoor public places, such as hair salons, restaurants, shopping centers, gyms, museums and movie theaters, saying that is still the safer course even for vaccinated people.
The advice to the unvaccinated applies to adults and children alike, according to the CDC. None of the COVID-19 vaccines in use in the U.S. is authorized for children under 16.
To see all of the newly-updated recommendations, follow this link to the CDC website.