CDC Says Fully Vaccinated Americans Don't Have to Wear Masks Indoors — With Some Exceptions

Fully vaccinated Americans no longer have to wear masks or social distance in most situations, including indoors, according to guidance updated on Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Those who received both shots of a two-dose vaccine or one shot of Johnson & Johnson can ditch their masks in several indoor and outdoor situations, including going to an indoor movie theater, eating in an indoor restaurant, participating in an exercise class, and visiting a hair salon. Vaccinated people must still use face coverings on airplanes and in airports, a rule that was extended into the fall last month.

"We have all longed for this moment," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said at a White House news conference, according to The New York Times. "If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic."

The change, which represents one of the largest shifts the CDC has taken from its pandemic-era recommendations, comes weeks after the agency said vaccinated Americans didn't need to cover their faces outdoors.

"Risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection is minimal for fully vaccinated people. The risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission from fully vaccinated people to unvaccinated people is also reduced," the CDC wrote in its new guidance. "Therefore, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

Mask guidance remains unchanged for unvaccinated Americans who are encouraged to wear a face covering in many situations, including attending small outdoor gatherings and dining in an outdoor restaurant.

So far, 58.7% of Americans 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 45.1% percent are considered fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. However, the pace of vaccinations has recently slowed, averaging about 2.16 million doses administered per day, about a 36% drop compared to mid April, The New York Times reported.

The updated recommendation follows a host of loosening restrictions from the CDC for those who got the jab. Last month, the agency said fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves and don't need to quarantine upon returning from an international or domestic trip. And in February, the CDC said vaccinated Americans don't need to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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