While the agency said fully vaccinated people would generally no longer need masks outside, the recommendation came with a significant caveat: “Except in certain crowded settings and venues,” recommending them to continue to avoid large public gatherings altogether.
The April 27 guidance listed a range of activities it believes fully vaccinated people can now do, which includes visiting with other fully-vaccinated people indoors without masks or social distancing, visiting with unvaccinated people from a single household who are “at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease” indoors without masks or social distancing, and participating in outdoor activities without a mask, unless it is in a crowded setting or venue.
Overall, the guidance outlines more recommended freedoms for fully vaccinated individuals but does not liberate them from masks completely.
“In indoor public spaces, the vaccination status of other people or whether they are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 is likely unknown,” the CDC guidance states.
“Therefore, fully vaccinated people should continue to wear a well-fitted mask, cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands often, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance,” it adds.
While the guidance states that a fully vaccinated person can visit with members of an unvaccinated household without wearing a mask, it recommends masks to be used for visits involving unvaccinated people from more than one household.
Per the guidance:
If the unvaccinated people come from multiple households, there is a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission among them, and the safest place to visit is outdoors. If the visit takes place indoors, all people involved should take precautions including wearing a masks that fit snuggly, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and visiting in a well-ventilated space.
Continuing the example from above, if fully vaccinated grandparents are visiting indoors with their unvaccinated daughter and her children and the daughter’s unvaccinated neighbors also come over, they should all wear masks that fit snuggly and maintain physical distance (at least 6 feet), or, to be safer, move the visit outdoors. This is due to the risk the two unvaccinated households pose to one another.
Additionally, the guidance recommends fully vaccinated people to “avoid indoor large-sized in-person gatherings and follow any applicable local guidance restricting the size of gatherings.”
“If they choose to participate, fully vaccinated people should wear a well-fitted mask,” it adds.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has yet to say when she believes health officials will stop recommending the use of masks in most social settings:
Congratulations on being fully vaccinated! You should always wear a mask over your nose & mouth when in public settings, incl. public transportation. Until we get a large enough percentage of the population vaccinated, it would be difficult to say when we can stop wearing a mask. https://t.co/GYOBBdbSAx
— Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH (@CDCDirector) April 22, 2021
An NBC News poll released Sunday found 24 percent of Republicans indicating they will not get vaccinated for the virus, and another 10 percent said they will only get the vaccine “if required.” Among all respondents, 12 percent said they will not get vaccinated.