CDC says it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks in most situations

It’s safe for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to stop wearing a mask in most indoor and outdoor situations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today.

“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.

It was not immediately clear if California and local health officials would align with the new CDC guidance. The CDC’s guidance serves as a series of recommendations, but state and local authorities can impose stricter requirements based on circumstances.

California has required people to wear masks in public places since June 18. The mandate requires people to wear a mask when gathering indoors with people who are not vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people can meet indoors without wearing a mask. They can also not wear a mask outdoors, except when attending large gatherings such as sporting events, festivals and concerts.

The new CDC guidance does not completely drop mask recommendations for vaccinated people. Face coverings are still recommended in some settings—such as aboard planes and buses or in crowded settings such as hospitals.

Walensky also said people who are vaccinated but are immunocompromised should “talk to your doctor before giving up your mask.”

“This is an exciting and powerful moment,” Walensky said of the announcement, while also urging more people to get vaccinated.

“The science is also very clear about unvaccinated people: you remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or of spreading the disease,” she said. “You should still mask, and you should get vaccinated right away.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated this week that the state will likely ease its mask mandate on June 15, when all other COVID restrictions on businesses and gatherings are set to be eliminated. Newsom told Fox 11 the state will continue to make recommendations for mask-wearing in select circumstances. But he said mask-wearing will likely only be required in large-scale indoor gatherings.

“Only in those settings that are indoor,” he told Fox 11. “Only in those massively large settings, where people—from around the world, not just around the country—are convening, and where people are mixing in real dense spaces. Otherwise, we’ll make guidance, recommendations, but no mandates and no restrictions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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