Apr 27, 2021 - Health

CDC: Fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks outside

Picture of CDC director Rochelle Walensky

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Amr Alfiky-Pool/Getty Images

Fully vaccinated people can venture outdoors without masks, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Tuesday.

The big picture: The guidelines come as more than nearly 29% of people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated and more than 42% have received at least one dose.

  • 15 governors so far have let their state orders requiring people to wear face coverings in public expire, according to U.S. News. Many cities and local jurisdictions have also begun to increase capacity at restaurants and businesses.

Details: The guidance applies to fully vaccinated individuals, which health officials classify as two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Vaccinated people can unmask while:

  • Doing physical activities outdoors alone or with members of your household like walking, running, hiking or biking.
  • Attending a small outdoor gathering either with fully vaccinated people or a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
  • Dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households.
  • Current guidelines on vaccinated people indoors and traveling still apply.

Yes, but: It can be hard to assess every individual's risk for severe COVID-19 in mass public spaces or intimate public settings, the agency says and asks vaccinated people to wear masks in situations like:

  • Crowded outdoor events like live performances, parades or sporting events.
  • Indoor spaces like a barber or hair salon or a movie theater.
  • Attending a full capacity service at a house of worship and singing in an indoor chorus.
  • Visiting an uncrowded indoor shopping mall or museum.

What they're saying: "CDC cannot provide the specific risk level for every activity in every community, so it is important to consider your own personal situation and the risk to you, your family and your community before venturing out without a mask," CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in prepared remarks.

What's next: President Biden will also mention the guidelines in remarks later on Tuesday, according to CNN.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the number of vaccine doses that have been administered.

Go deeper