The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidance for people fully vaccinated against coronavirus says that they no longer need to wear masks while outdoors or indoors, except for in certain circumstances, which has caused some confusion about when to bring one along.
For instance, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has said that fully vaccinated people don’t need a mask outside unless “you were going into a completely crowded situation where people are essentially falling all over each other,” and the agency now states that attending a crowded outdoor event like a live performance, parade or sports event without a mask is safe for this population, but face masks are still required at a number of open-air baseball stadiums.
As such, many have been confused as to whether they can enter without a mask. The stadium mask requirement, as well as some restaurant and businesses’ mandates, are also addressed by the agency.
“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 business and workplace guidance,” the CDC states on its website.
Aside from these instances, there are a number of indoor circumstances in which the agency advises fully vaccinated people wear a mask. Those who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system may not be fully protected by the vaccine and should talk to a health care provider about continuing to take precautions such as wearing a mask.
Other fully vaccinated people are still required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation, and while in transportation hubs. Masks should also be worn while in health care settings, prisons and homeless shelters. The CDC also recommends that schools continue to use the COVID-19 prevention strategies outlined by the agency for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, which includes universal mask use.
The updated mask policies largely rely on the honor system, with major retailers such as Trader Joe’s and Costco recently removing mask mandates for consumers but stating that they will not require proof of vaccination status. However, customers may still be required to wear a mask under local regulations.
“We’re not going to go out and arrest people,” President Biden said, of the honor system approach. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, wear your mask for your own protection and the protection of the people who have not been vaccinated.”