Washington: New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is safe for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be outside without a mask, but only in small groups.
According to The Hill, the guidance, which CDC Director Rochelle Walensky outlined during a White House press conference Tuesday, builds on previous updates from the agency about the activities people can feel comfortable with once fully vaccinated.
According to the agency, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks during small, outdoor gatherings even if there's a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households is also considered a safe activity for vaccinated people to do without a mask, the agency said.
"The release of these new guidelines is a first step at helping fully vaccinated Americans resume what they had stopped doing because of the pandemic, at low risk to themselves, while being mindful of the potential risk of transmitting the virus to others," the CDC said.
The Hill reported that people are considered fully vaccinated by the CDC two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated or dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, the science shows if you're vaccinated, you can do so safely unmasked," Walensky said as quoted by Sputnik. "Generally, for vaccinated people, outdoor activities without a mask are safe." More than 42 percent of the US population has received at least one vaccine dose, including nearly 30 percent who have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
CDC emphasized that it's ultimately up to individuals to consider their own personal situation and the risk to themselves, their family, and community before venturing out without a mask.
Even vaccinated people should wear a mask when outdoors in a crowded public space, indoors in public spaces like a mall or even a small indoor gathering with a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Studies have consistently found the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is significantly reduced when outdoors, particularly when individuals are socially distanced. Experts have increasingly questioned the need for mask use outdoors given the rising percentage of Americans who are vaccinated against the virus.