CDC says vaccinated people can go maskless outside and at outdoor restaurants

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More people are getting vaccinated and we’re close to being on the other side of the pandemic. However we can’t let our guard down, at least inside. Surges in states like Michigan and countries like Brazil and India where vaccinations are lagging show that the virus is still as deadly as ever. We have to keep masking and social distancing from unvaccinated and unknown people, at least inside. A new study from MIT shows that the six feet social distancing rule can be ineffective indoors. Virus droplets can travel and infect maskless people much farther than that, especially in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.

Outside though it’s a different story. The CDC has now issued guidelines that vaccinated people can go maskless outside. We can supposedly exercise outside and hold small parties without masks, but we should still wear masks in outdoor crowds like at concerts. Here is more on that.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its public health guidance Tuesday, saying fully vaccinated people can exercise and attend small gatherings outdoors without wearing a face mask.

People two weeks removed from their last vaccine can exercise alone or with other household members outside without a face covering, the CDC said. They can also meet outdoors with a small group of other fully vaccinated people, or a mixture of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the agency added. The guidance did not say what counts as a small gathering.

Dining unmasked at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households is also acceptable, according to the CDC.

The agency still recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask at outdoor spaces where the risk of Covid-19 is less clear. Those include sporting events, concerts, parades and other crowded places.

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

[From CNBC]

I know that the vaccinations work impressively well and have prevented almost all cases of serious illness and death. Breakthrough infections are rare and have only rarely been deadly. However I remember, early in the pandemic, when the CDC said to just wear gloves and it will be fine. I wore a bandana at the supermarket in mid March and everyone looked at me like I was crazy. The CDC under Biden is more trustworthy, but I’m still super wary. This seems like it’s supposed to reassure people that things are going back to normal. There are so many people who have acted like they don’t have to wear masks ever. I live in an area with a lot of anti-maskers who are surely anti-vaxxers too. I f’ing hate those people and I don’t want to be around them maskless on principle, even outdoors. My point is that this sounds reassuring, but I’m worried that it will be used as an excuse by people to just ditch masks entirely. I guess those people have never needed an excuse besides “mah freedom” and “Trump.”

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photos credit: Mason Dahl, David Todd McCarty on Unsplash and Wendy Wei and Adrienn on Pexels

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55 Responses to “CDC says vaccinated people can go maskless outside and at outdoor restaurants”

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  1. L84Tea says:

    I’m vaccinated, my husband is vaccinated, and most of the people around me are too. But I am still being hyper vigilant about masking and social distancing. I read medical charts all day long in my job and it’s still scary how many Covid patients are still sprouting. And reading how they all start off rather mild but can go downhill SO fast is what still scares me. I look forward to the days when we are past this.

    • (The OG) Jan90067 says:

      And that’s the kicker. YOU CAN STILL GET SICK! This miracle vaccine is 90-95% effective against serious illness/death, but there is STILL that 5-10% you CAN get sick! There is a higher chance with the J&J vaccine.

      There is NO vaccine that we have (yet! 🙏🏻🤞🏻) that gives 100% immunity. Until then/If when we do, THEN you can be maskless everywhere with everyone. But until then, we MUST rely on herd immunity.

      EVERYONE who *can* needs to get vaxxed for the sake of those who *TRULY* can’t

  2. Lauren says:

    You can’t know if the people you encounter outside have been vaccinated or not. I would rather not risk it.

    • Sid says:

      Right. I feel like a lot of unvaccinated people will just take this as a chance to go maskless, which isn’t good.

      • bros says:

        the guidelines state that even unvaccinated people can be outside without masks. there is a nearly 0% chance of getting covid outside. People need to come down off the paranoia tower and listen/read actual studies and science on this. we have known for over a year now that you’re not going to contract covid outside (add whatever caveat you want about bodies close together in crowds but most people are not in these types of BJP-Rally conditions). It’s fine, and it’s ok and you can relax outside.

      • Anna says:

        Yeah, agreed. Even in the throes of the pandemic, people were jogging all sweaty and steamy right next to me, no care or regard for safety, maskless, so no, I do not trust the general public at all. People are a*******. I will be masking for the foreseeable future. My body, my choice.

    • shanaynay says:

      I agree. I’m fully vaccinated, but I will still continue wearing my mask until/if I feel safe to go without it.

  3. Gail Hirst says:

    The key is: “fully vaccinated”.
    That means ~ have received both shots. I got my first April 25 and won’t get my second till August (4 months later).
    Also: being fully vaccinated means YOU are safe. One could still be a carrier and spread the virus if one doesn’t continue to be physically distant (2 meters = 6 feet).
    Please adjust headline to read “fully vaccinated” because it’s misleading otherwise and I just know that would never be your intention.
    Thank you. Appreciate and totally enjoy your site.

    • L84Tea says:

      And even after the second shot, it needs a couple weeks to reach its full potency.

    • Kkat says:

      And it doesn’t mean YOU are fully safe once you are fully vaccinated.
      You can still get it. Especially with the varients
      There have been breakthrough cases and deaths of fully vaccinated people

      • bros says:

        The vaccines are effective against variants. There might be breakthrough infections in some cases, such as the south african variant which has shown to be a little better at evading the vaccine, but people are, in almost 100% of cases, not becoming seriously ill from them at all. or even a little bit sick, and the breakthroughs are largely asymptomatic. More than one study shows people who are vaccinated are NOT passing on any virus because they are not able to carry the virus while vaccinated. This is amazing and great news and we should ease up on the covid stockholm syndrome. Citing one or two deaths among one BILLION vaccinated people is unhelpful. Statistically, that will happen, but it’s less than the chances of a plane crash while flying and people still fly.

  4. Case says:

    “Breakthrough infections are rare and not deadly.” There have been breakthrough cases that have led to death. Not a lot, but they have happened with the elderly and high risk individuals. So for the time being when cases are still quite high, everyone needs to be cognizant of that.

    The guidance on wearing masks outdoors kinda sounds like exactly what we’ve been doing, right? I wear my mask outside when there are people around. If I’m alone/far away from people or with vaccinated people, I don’t. This kinda felt like a non-update to me from the CDC just to show that vaccines are (slowly) starting to make some progress. Unfortunately despite a high vaccination rate in NJ, we still have cases in the 3,000s every day, so I’m keeping my vaccinated self mostly at home still. You won’t catch me eating out this year, even outdoors.

    I’m honestly still pretty wary of the CDC’s advice. They also said it’s safe to travel domestically/not quarantine if you’re vaccinated, but the virus is still absolutely raging here. I don’t understand their rush.

    • Celebitchy says:

      I will change that wording. I agree with you and am also wary of what they’re saying.

    • Becks1 says:

      @Case – that was my confusion as well. Pretty early on our governor (Maryland) was saying we did not have to wear masks if we were outside and not around other people. And he is super pro-mask. So I wear one on the boardwalk in Ocean City, if I’m in a downtown area, etc, but not on a neighborhood walk with no one else around me.

      I think the big change here is that you don’t have to wear a mask outside at a “small gathering” even if you’re with people who are not vaccinated.

      • Case says:

        @Becks1 I kinda missed the part that unvaccinated people could be included in the small gatherings. I’m definitely not comfortable with that just yet!

      • lucy2 says:

        Me either Case. I’ve had one get together with a few friends, all of us had at least 1 shot (most were fully done) and we stayed outside to be safe. Doing the same thing again next month. Any unvaccinated people are not welcome.

  5. Twin falls says:

    This guideline makes no sense to me except as an attempt to motivate the vaccine reluctant with a mask free incentive.

  6. Lucy2 says:

    Oh no thanks, I’m still gonna wear mine in public everywhere, and want everyone else to do the same. You don’t know who has been vaccinated or not.
    I’m in a state with a mask mandate, and we recently had a town yard sale. Probably half the people out there weren’t wearing masks. It was horrible and I avoided everyone as much as possible.

  7. Snuffles says:

    I’ve seen WAY too many people in my hood walking around mask less even before the vaccine. I don’t trust NONE of them. I’m keeping my mask on outside and will only take it off around my family because I KNOW they’ve been fully vaccinated.

  8. Noodle says:

    One of my girlfriends is an elementary school
    Principal. They had a vaccination drive in February where they vaccinated (first shot) all school employees who wanted to be vaccinated (which was most, with second shot in March). They returned to school at the beginning of this month for the first time in a year. She now has like 3 staff and 5 teachers (who were fully vaccinated) out with Covid. These are people in their 30-50’s, and while their symptoms are more mild than if they were not vaccinated (she thinks; who knows, really?) breakthroughs are happening even in the cautious of communities.

    • Case says:

      This terrifies me, and is the reason why scientists keep stressing that vaccines help the community, not the individual. If an individual is vaccinated but they’re around a bunch of people who aren’t (like students), it really doesn’t mean a lot and they’re not as protected as you would hope.

    • H says:

      Read up on the double mutation in India and it’ll scare the crap out of you. People who are fully vaccinated are being hospitalized and dying. I’m masking up even after my Pfizer shots.

  9. Izzy says:

    The problem is that there are people around me who aren’t vaccinated, and let’s face it, if we learned one thing this past year, it’s that lots of people are gross. I will continue to mask up outside, and I suspect that I will for a long time to come.

  10. cassandra says:

    Yeah, I’m not emotionally ready to give up my masks and I’ve been fully vaxxed since January.

  11. OriginalLala says:

    I’m getting jab #1 today and probably wont be getting my second until the fall so I’ll be happily masking until my community is safe, which may take a while

  12. Butterflystella says:

    Received my second Pfizer shot yesterday. I was giddy when I walked out. Now,, I’m experiencing aches, muscle soreness and no energy. It’s worth it, though. I will still mask up for awhile inside and outside. Still too many unknowns…

    • LarkspurLM says:

      @Butterflystella – I too had similar side effects after 2nd Pfizer shot. Two days after the appointment, I felt great, so hang in there.

      Here in Northern California, we are doing very well for new cases and vaccinations…but the cases are up a bit due to spring break travel earlier this month. ARGH……! I will still wear a mask in, out, here, there, etc.

      • Boo says:

        My second Pfizer shot gave me chills and low fever but the worst of it was the insomnia. I was wide awake for hours and hours in the middle of the night. Did that happen to anyone else?

    • Regina Falangie says:

      What are people’s experiences with the first shot? I have searched and searched and I hear a lot about the second shot but not the first.

      I got my first Pfizer shot exactly one week ago and about 2 days after I started feeling run down. Not fluish, no fever or aches, just run down, tired and no energy. I just feel UGH. I wish I could read about other people’s experiences so I could relax about it.

      Any insights?

      • Twin falls says:

        Myself and someone else I know both had arm pain and a headache the following day after the first dose Pfizer.

        A different friend had fever chills and muscle aches that lasted 24 hours with her first dose Pfizer. She had all of that plus exhaustion and stomach upset for about 48 hours with her second dose. I haven’t had my second shot yet.

        We are all in our 40s.

        My dad who is in his 70s had no side effects.

      • Regina Falangie says:

        Thank you at @Twin falls! I’m in my 40s too. Good to know. This fatigue is rough and I’m ready to feel normal again.

      • Leah says:

        First shot Pfizer I got arm pain (three days), nausea/headache (six hours) and fatigue (about a day). Arm pain feels like you lifted something heavy and got arm strain.

        Second shot I was prepared with bio freeze patches for the arm and Motrin for any fever/headache. Just had arm pain for two days. I will say this, having a monthly horror running at the same time as the injection is no picnic.

        My mother who is in her 80’s, had arm pain and fatigue both times. My stepfather who is 90 had no reaction at all, and it surprised me because he has a very low pain threshold. Both had Pfizer.

        My neighbor had Moderna and first shot had a combo of 24 hrs of nausea/headache/dizziness. Second shot, she just had arm pain. She’s my age, 40’s.

      • Regina Falangie says:

        Thank you @Leah!

  13. Leah says:

    I did maskless dining at an outdoor restaurant on Sunday and it still made me hellava nervous. As for indoor dining, nope not ready for that even though I’ve had the vaccine. I’ll still do take out for right now. If the variants weren’t floating around I’d be less nervous. A couple of my new neighbors are anti-mask, don’t believe in the virus and the hallway we share is not ventilated so I have to wear a mask when I walk out my door. I don’t speak to them because I don’t want to get friendly enough with them where they think I’d invite them into my home. I feel that what they are doing is disrespectful especially to the elders and disabled we have living in this building who are at high risk to the virus. One of my neighbors can’t even get the vaccine due to her disability.

    After last year I still question the guidance from the CDC.

  14. Lory says:

    Even if you are fully vaccinated:
    1. You can still get COVID.
    2. You can still be an asymptotic carrier and infect others.

    • bros says:

      Not really, statistically, it is an extremely low chance, especially with the Mrna vaccines. There needs to be better public health messaging around these chances. There have been a billion vaccines administered and there have been very low reports of breakthroughs or vaccinated people spreading. In fact, the studies show to the contrary, vaccinated people do not spread covid. I have no skin in this game-I work for a research org and I have been fully vaxxed since early feb. I happily wear masks inside where it actually spreads, but I would also happily take my mask off if I were in a store where, for instance, only vaccinated people could go. I am also comfortable flying and eating inside due to air exchanges, and the fact that I am vaccinated. These vaccines are incredible and the public health messaging around the protection it affords us and others has been absolutely abysmal.
      you can tell it’s been abysmal by high rates of vaccine hesitancy especially among people who can’t figure out what is the point of getting one if it changes nothing. It changes A LOT, and that needs to be the message.

  15. Watson says:

    This is a big hell no for me. Between anti vaxxers and many people not taking their second shot, i feel like promoting masks off is premature even if there is a disclaimer to only do so while fully vaccinated. I think people will just take advantage, lie and go around maskless with these new rules.

  16. ElleE says:

    Fully-vaxxed and spent 5 lovely, chilly, outdoor hours with my brother’s family last weekend-the kids needed their cousins and we needed to be together too. But I stressed for days afterwards and I wear a mask just walking around the neighborhood.

    Have to share this info from Canada on outdoor transmission there. Whistler really made some bad choices recently and people there are suffering. Hope that they get the vaccine soon and open the border. https://youtu.be/nKM7YpAf8CE

  17. HK9 says:

    Nah. People will be running out into public places lying about being fully vaccinated just so they don’t have to wear a mask and no one will have any way of proving that. Secondly, I’m weary of the CDC and will err on the side of caution-I’ll be wearing my mask until this shit is over.

  18. Boo says:

    Vaccinated here. I’ll keep wearing masks and staying home (where I won’t be shot). I’m an American so I’m already uncomfortable every time I leave my house.

  19. Kkat says:

    Yeah, no thanks.
    I and my family are fully vaccinated but there is no way we are going maskless.
    There are too many people not getting vaccinated, like my stupid parents.
    And they are stupid because they watch Fox news and get medical advice from facebook.

    I’m in California and 25% of the cases that they know of are the Brazil or UK varient. And apparently there is another up and coming worse varient spreading across europe.
    Most of the maskless people here are unvaccinated and lying about it to not wear a mask.
    They desperately don’t want having to show vax cards to be a thing for that reason.

    I am sick to death of morons that want to kill the rest of us.

    But knowing as much as I do about drift, spread, viral load ect.
    We will not be going to movie theaters (even masked) because there will be sir conditioning.
    And no way to any kind of indoor dining.

    Outside would have to be really really socially distanced.

    • H says:

      @Kkhat, The India double mutation is the one to watch out for. I’m scared of that one. And I’ve had both my shots.

  20. Steph says:

    Fully vaccinated for over a month now and still double masking. I have no intention on giving that up anytime soon.

  21. Christin says:

    Our governor dropped the mask mandate yesterday, and I assume that plus the new guidance led to our local grocery and pharmacy removing their masks required signage today.

    Communications have been confusing when it comes to distancing and masking. People are going to assume any activity is OK and not necessarily evaluate the risks. Our community had a lot of “living room spread”, which could be going to your relative’s house. We had two employees who caught it at a church picnic (outdoors – but maskless and hugging/kissing older attendees).

    My personal view goes back to something Fauci said last year, which was that we would not go back to normal like flipping a switch. There would be phases to it. This is what they need to be stressing right now.

  22. LouLou says:

    I am fully vaccinated and enjoyed taking a walk with no mask yesterday. However, there were still lots of people with masks also out walking and I was worried that they would think I was an anti-masking, anti-vaxx numbskull. So, I think I am going to take a mask with me and put it on when someone is somewhat close to reassure them. Also, it seems unlikely since I never go anywhere but the store, but I could be a carrier.

  23. Beach Dreams says:

    I’ll still be wearing my mask after I’m fully vaccinated. The constant emergence and spread of new strains is enough to keep me wary.

  24. candy says:

    I’ve been vaccinated since January (essential worker). It was nice to have a bit of relief at first. I remember myself and my coworkers having a profound sense of relief, even though we were still masking. It was the little things, like not scrubbing my hands 15 times a day, or sipping my coffee in peace. Now the mask is just a bonus. I still wear it, but I’m much more at ease.

  25. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    MerlinsDad and I are both fully vaccinated but will continue to wear masks for the foreseeable future. I have a compromised immune system so I am hyper vigilant about going places.
    (I have already had one person call me a frightened sheep for wearing a mask since our idiot governor lifted the mandate. Unfortunately for him, MerlinsDad overheard and wiped the floor with him)
    I don’t know if I will ever be comfortable going out in public without a mask to be honest

    • Christin says:

      I will be wearing masks inside for a very long time. As for the person who called you a sheep, what business is it to anyone else if someone wears a mask?

      I really feel more sympathy for the few who wore masks in stores during flu season, etc., before 2020.

      There should be no stigma or shame for trying to protect one’s health, pandemic or not.

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:

        @Christin
        Well I live in trump territory so…there’s still flags and yard signs and what not. I’ve even seen a trump 2024 flag.
        What surprised me is that most folk here STILL wear masks and the few who don’t usually keep it to themselves but there’s always gotta be one I suppose

  26. Jennifer says:

    Yeah, my mask will be firmly on while out and about for the foreseeable future. I fully anticipate wearing it on the regular until at least next summer and longer if needed.

    • Christin says:

      My (minimum) timeline is same as yours. If cases are almost non-existent by mid-2022, I may let up a little. But when cooler weather approaches, back to the mask.

      Our social norms are likely going to have lasting effects. For example, have read that conferences will likely be hybrid (virtual options) and not 100 percent in-person, for years to come.

  27. Rnot says:

    My personal guideline for safe distances is based on memories of cigarette smoke. I’m old and remember when indoor smoking was allowed almost everywhere. If I could smell that someone was smoking on the other side of a restaurant, then there’s a risk that covid could travel that far too. I remember watching smoke float along indoor air currents. Covid droplets are larger than smoke particles but the 6 foot rule is similar to the hygiene theater of surface disinfection and plexiglass sneeze-guards. It helps a little bit but really it’s about giving people a sense of control. MIT researchers just showed how transmission can happen indoors over distances of 60+ feet.

  28. laura-j says:

    I’m fully vaccinated and I always wear my mask when I come within 10 feet of anyone outside…and always inside anywhere but home. I do it mostly because we don’t know who is vaccinated and who isn’t and I don’t want to be accused of being an anti-masker.