The Center for Disease Control and prevention updated their guidelines Tuesday to reflect that fully vaccinated Americans can forgo masks outdoors when exercising or dining with friends at outdoor restaurants.
The updated recommendations come after infectious disease officials called for relaxed mask restrictions amidst research findings that virus particles disperse effectively in outdoor air. One virology study conducted in Wuhan, China concluded that only one of 7,324 infection incidents investigated was connected to outdoor spread.
New evidence indicates that fully vaccinated people are less likely to contract the infection or transmit it to others asymptomatically. However, officials don’t know when or if protection from the virus expires or to what degree the vaccines protect against emerging virus strains.
The CDC notice still warned about the public health risk of gathering in crowded outdoor settings and urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to continue to wear masks at larger venues. For instance, the CDC still urged fully vaccinated people to keep wearing well-fitted masks at hair salons, indoor shopping malls and plazas, indoor movie theaters, full-capacity services at places of worship, and live outdoor events and performances.
“Therefore, fully vaccinated people should continue to follow guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a well-fitted mask, when indoors or in an outdoor setting or venue where masks are required,” the CDC guidance stated.
“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,” the organization said.
Over 140 million Americans have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine and approximately 95.8 million Americans are fully inoculated, according to CDC data.
At a press briefing Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she hopes the relaxed restrictions will encourage and incentivize those who have abstained from immunization to get the vaccine.
“Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before,” she said. “If you are fully vaccinated, things are much safer for you than those who are not fully vaccinated.”