by Sumaya Hussein
The director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday said that fully vaccinated Americans can now participate in most outdoor activities, without wearing a mask or social distancing.
The CDC head, Rochelle Walensky, revealed the agency’s new mask guidance during a White House briefing on coronavirus.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
However, fully vaccinated people are still required to wear their masks while using public transport including buses, trains ad airplanes. Walensky said that the CDC is continuing to review its travel policies, but did not explain reasoning behind Thursday’s announcement.
“Right now for travel we are asking people to continue to wear their masks,” she said.
Moreover, the CDC noted that vaccinated people should continue following the existing state, local or tribal laws and regulations on masks and social distancing, as well as policies at businesses and workplaces.
Consequently, as of Friday morning, the rules looked very different from one state, city or county to the next.
US President Joe Biden heralded the CDC’s announcement in an outdoor press conference hours later saying, “The CDC is saying, they have concluded that fully vaccinated people are at a very, very, low risk of getting Covid-19. Therefore, if you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask,” said Biden. “Let me repeat: if you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask.”
Walensky also said: “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy. Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated.”
To some, the announcement is a significant step in resuming pre-covid life, but others remain skeptical about the decision to ease the restrictions.
Jeniffer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said she expects mask-wearing to continue in transportation settings, as well as some other places open to the public, such as grocery stores.
“I really don’t expect public settings to change that much until case numbers come down,” said Nuzzo.