Fully vaccinated Americans do not need to wear masks outdoors, or even indoors in some cases, according to the nation's top health experts, but with some exceptions.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday released new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans, encouraging them to "start doing many things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic."
Because the vaccines have proven to be effective at protecting people from getting sick, the CDC is recommending that people who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and have waited two weeks after their second dose begin to return to normal life. The updated guidance covers what vaccinated Americans can do, what pandemic restrictions people ought to continue to observe, and what researchers and scientists still don't know about COVID-19.
If you've been fully vaccinated, the CDC says you can gather outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues. Vaccinated individuals can also gather indoors without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart.
"You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19," the CDC guidelines state.
Those traveling no longer need to get tested for the coronavirus before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel. The CDC advises travelers to pay attention to the COVID-19 restrictions of their travel destination and reminds them that they will still need to show a negative test result if traveling internationally. If you were vaccinated and are returning to the United States from abroad you should still get tested 3-5 days after travel but you do not need to self-quarantine after arriving in the U.S.
Vaccinated Americans who have been around someone who's tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless they experience symptoms.
"However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don't have symptoms," the CDC says.
The CDC continues to recommend mask-wearing for indoor public settings and on public transportation. Those who have not completed their vaccine regiments are recommended to continue wearing masks around other unvaccinated individuals.
On the question of COVID-19 variants, the CDC said "early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others."
While the CDC also said vaccines may help keep people from spreading the disease, research on this matter is ongoing and the CDC will make new recommendations once the research is more conclusive.