WASHINGTON — More than a year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that everyone wear a mask in public places, the agency is now saying some people can take them off during specific outdoor activates.
The new recommendation applies to those who are considered fully vaccinated, which is two weeks after your final shot. The updated guidelines were unveiled during a White House "COVID-19 Response Team" press conference Tuesday.
“The examples today show that when you’re fully vaccinated you can return to many activities safely, and most of them outdoors and unmasked, and begin to get back to normal," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
What are the new mask guidelines and to whom do they apply?
The CDC has released scenarios in which some people can safely be outside without a mask. Most of the updated guidelines apply to those who the CDC considered "fully vaccinated," meaning those who received their final dose of vaccine at least 14 days ago.
Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director
WHAT WE KNOW:
In the past month, we've seen the CDC slowly relax some of its guidance on mask wearing when it comes to fully vaccinated people. The latest update provides scenarios in which a fully vaccinated individual can safely be outside, in the public without a mask.
People who are 14-days post their final vaccination can walk, run or bike outside with people they live with; attend a small, outdoor gathering with people who are both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated; and dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households.
However, the guidance for crowded outdoor activities like concerts, parades and sports stadiums, remains the same: fully vaccinated people should continue to don a mask.
"When you have that density, we really do worry about protecting the unvaccinated people," Walensky said.
This graphic shows some of the CDC's recommendations for fully vaccinated people:
The CDC also maintains that fully vaccinated people are safest while continuing to wear a mask indoors at places like hair salons, museums, movie theaters and places of worship.
As for unvaccinated people, the CDC has relaxed mask guidance in two specific scenarios: walking, running or biking outdoors with people you live with; and attending a small, outdoor gathering with friends and family who are fully vaccinated.
Other than that, the agency recommends that unvaccinated individuals continue to mask up, practice social distancing and wash their hands.
“There's increasing data that suggests that most of transmission is happening indoors rather than outdoors, less than 10% of documented transmission in many studies have occurred outdoors," Walensky said. "We also know that there’s almost a 20-fold increased risk of transmission in the indoor setting than the outdoor setting. That coupled with the fact that we now have 37% of people over the age of 18 fully vaccinated and the fact that our case rates are now starting to come down, motivated our change in guidance.”