WASHINGTON (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is easing indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and inside in most places.
The new guidance is a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life.
It still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but will help ease restrictions for reopening workplaces and schools.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, says, “We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Walensky announced the new guidance on Thursday afternoon at a White House briefing, saying the long-awaited change is thanks to millions of people getting vaccinated — and based on the latest science about how well those shots are working.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities – large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
The easing guidance is likely to open the door to confusion, since there is no surefire way for businesses or others to distinguish between those fully vaccinated and those who are not.
Walensky said those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors.