ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new masking guidelines on Thursday that allow fully vaccinated Americans, in most cases, to no longer need to wear masks indoors.
The agency also said fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks outdoors, even when in crowded spaces.
There are still some exceptions. But the announcement represents a quantum shift in recommendations and a major loosening of the mask restrictions that Americans have had to live with since COVID-19 became a major part of U.S. life 15 months ago.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
Health experts point out the new CDC guidelines may encourage more people to get vaccinated by enticing them with tangible benefits, but it could also add to the confusion of mask etiquette in the United States.