CDC says vaccinated Americans don't need a mask outdoors in small groups

Health officials release new mask guidance for people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely do many outdoor activities without wearing a mask, according to updated guidance Tuesday from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, health officials said vaccinated people should continue to wear a mask indoors and at crowded outdoor events, such as concerts, parades and sports events.

"There are many situations where fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask, particularly if they are outdoors," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a press briefing. "If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated or dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends form multiple households, the science shows -- if you're vaccinated -- you can do so safely unmasked."

You're considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC on Tuesday released a graphic to help people make decisions about when to wear a mask both outdoors and indoors. For fully vaccinated people, the CDC says these outdoor activities are safe without a mask:

  • Walk, run or bike outdoors with members of your household
  • Attend a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends
  • Attend a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • Dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households
CDC Choosing Safer Activities Chart
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CDC Choosing Safer Activities Chart

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The updated guidelines come after the CDC in March eased some restrictions for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, saying it was OK to gather indoors in small groups without wearing masks or social distancing.

Guidance for people who have not yet been vaccinated hasn't changed, said Walensky. They should continue to wear a mask and social distance indoors as well as outdoors around people outside of their household who haven't been vaccinated, according to the CDC. 

President Joe Biden spoke about the updated mask guidelines during a briefing later on Tuesday, urging all Americans to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Getting together with friends, going to a park for a picnic without needing to mask up -- we're back to that place now as long as you get vaccinated," Biden said. "So go get the shot."

As of mid-April, all adults in the US are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. In total, more than 230 million vaccines doses have been administered in the US, according data from John Hopkins University, with over 87 million people being fully vaccinated. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.