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New CDC mask guidance: Vaccinated people don’t need face coverings in most outdoor settings

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely go for a jog, dine on a restaurant patio, gather with small groups and do other outdoor activities without wearing a mask, the Centers for Disease Control said in updated guidance Tuesday.

The new guidance marks a dramatic shift in how federal health officials, who have long insisted that people wear a mask any time they are within six feet of others outdoors, are advising the public to protect itself now that nearly 100 million Americans are fully vaccinated.

It’s not yet clear how the new federal guidelines will affect state and local mask mandates that, as of Tuesday morning, still required Californians to wear face coverings in most outdoor settings. The California Department of Public Health could not be reached for comment immediately following the CDC’s announcement; health officials from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties said any changes to local mask rules would be based on the state’s mandate.

While the CDC stopped well short of saying people can ditch masks altogether, Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing that the new rules show how vaccinates provide a safe way for the public to “begin to get back to normal.”

The only time the CDC guidance says fully vaccinated people must wear masks outdoors is at large and crowded outdoor events such as concerts and parades.

People who have not gotten a shot, and those who are still in the midst of the multi-week process it takes for vaccines to reach full efficacy, can also enjoy outdoor exercise and small outdoor gatherings with people who are fully vaccinated without wearing a face covering, the CDC said. Otherwise, unvaccinated people should don a mask when taking part in other outdoor activities, the CDC said.

It recommends everyone — including fully vaccinated people — continue to wear masks when doing activities indoors, where coronavirus spreads more easily, such as going to a movie, attending a religious service or dining inside a restaurant.

“Until more people are vaccinated, and while we still have more than 50,000 cases a day, mask use indoors will provide extra protection,” Walensky said.

Check back for updates.

Source: Orange County Register

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