Fully vaccinated Americans can largely do away with wearing masks, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, the most significant shift in federal guidelines since the start of the pandemic.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor or outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC chief Rochelle Walensky said at a White House news briefing. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Formal guidance on the CDC’s website specifies that the agency still recommends vaccinated people wear masks on “all planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.” Other exceptions include wearing masks in health-care facilities, prisons and homeless shelters, as well as places where state and local governments or businesses are requiring masks.
About 59% of American adults have received at least one shot, and the Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE was cleared for use in children ages 12 to 15 years old this week. New daily Covid-19 cases, meanwhile, have been declining for weeks.
Still, the pace of vaccinations has slowed, raising concerns about whether hesitancy will impede widespread protection in the population.
President Joe Biden has set a goal of 70% of adult Americans receiving at least one vaccine shot by July 4.