CDC Says Vaccinated People Don't Have To Wear Masks In Most Outdoor Spaces

by Madison Vanderberg

CDC updates their guidelines for what vaccinated people can and cannot do

The CDC has updated their COVID-19 safety guidelines to state that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks anymore outside unless they are at a crowded outdoor event like a live performance, parade, or sporting event.

The “outdoor masking” guidelines arrived among a list of updated CDC rules on what vaccinated people can and cannot do now. Also, for reference, people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after their second dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after they receive a single-dose of the J&J vaccine.

“Today, I hope, is a day when we can take another step back to the normalcy of before,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said (via The AP). “Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what you can’t do. Today, I am going to tell you some of the things you can do, if you are fully vaccinated.”

Walensky says the new guidelines were changed in part due to the fact that less than 10% of documented instances of transmission of the virus happened outdoors.

Per the CDC, “Fully vaccinated people can participate in many outdoor activities without a mask at low risk to themselves or to others. While generally safe for vaccinated people to be outdoors without a mask, CDC continues to recommend requiring masking in crowded settings and venues where there is a decreased ability to maintain physical distance until widespread vaccination coverage is achieved.”

Crowded outdoor settings where mask wearing is still recommended include live performances, parades, or sporting events.

It’s a little confusing because the new CDC guidance only pertains to vaccinated individuals, so there isn’t anything in the written guidance that specifically addressed unvaccinated individuals and whether or not they have to wear masks outdoors. However, the CDC did also release a chart which listed activities from “safest to least safe” for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and for those who are not vaccinated, they are only considered “safe” doing some unmasked outdoor activities like go for a run with members of their own household or spending time with fully vaccinated people.


It’s clear that releasing these guidelines for fully vaccinated people is to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

“The bottom line is clear: If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors,” Biden said on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 (via The AP). “So for those who haven’t gotten their vaccinations yet, especially if you’re younger or thinking you don’t need it, this is another great reason to go get vaccinated now.”

However, some on Twitter worry that the change will result in more reckless behavior or will embolden anti-maskers to claim they are vaccinated when they are not.

At any rate, it’s a good day to get your COVID-19 vaccine. Check out the CDC’s full guidelines here.