KEY POINTS

  • Fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a face mask outdoors
  • They can also attend small outdoor gatherings
  • The CDC hopes the new guidelines will encourage people to get vaccinated for COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday released new guidelines on outdoor mask use for individuals who are fully vaccinated.

The revised “interim public health recommendations” said fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks at small outdoor gatherings, or while dining outside with friends from multiple households. People who aren't vaccinated must continue to wear masks at those gatherings.

The CDC didn't define what a “small gathering” should be, but said the exact number would largely depend on the size of the space and the amount of ventilation available. 

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks following the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.

The agency still encourages fully vaccinated people to wear face coverings when at crowded, outdoor events. 

“In public spaces, the vaccination status of other people or whether they are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 is likely unknown,” the guidance read. “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.”

“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,” it added. 

In a press briefing Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she hopes the new guidance will encourage more Americans to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. 

“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.”

Health experts say individuals are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, or a shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

As of Monday, more than 140 million Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 95.8 million individuals are now fully vaccinated. 

Brazil's health regulator has denied a request from several states to import Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine Brazil's health regulator has denied a request from several states to import Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine Photo: AFP / Robert ATANASOVSKI