The CDC Says This Is the Only Time Vaccinated People Need a Mask Outside

Every activity is safe for vaccinated people to do outdoors without a mask, except this one.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released long-anticipated updated guidance on masks for vaccinated people. The new guidelines highlight when people who are vaccinated or unvaccinated have to wear masks, both indoors or outdoors. According to the latest CDC update, vaccinated people only have to wear a mask outside if they're doing this one thing. Read on to find out when you'll need to keep your mask on, and for more post-vaccination guidance, The CDC Is Warning You to Avoid This One Place, Even If You're Vaccinated.

Vaccinated people only need to wear a mask outside at crowded events.

Woman with a mask at an outdoor concert
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On April 27, the CDC announced the third update to its mask guidance. The changes come after many people have been fully vaccinated and case rates continue to drop, CDC director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said during the White House COVID task force briefing. The new guidelines from the CDC say that the only time a fully vaccinated person has to wear a mask outdoors is at "a crowded, outdoor event, like a live performance, parade, or sports event." The agency says that attending crowded outdoor events isn't safe for unvaccinated people, even if they are wearing a mask.

"Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do," Walensky said. "Today, I'm going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated." According to the updated guidelines, vaccinated people can walk, run, bike, attend small outdoor gatherings, and dine outdoors without a mask. And for more vaccine news, There's a 50 Percent Chance You'll Make This Mistake When Getting Vaccinated.

Unvaccinated people have to wear a mask at all times, except on two occasions.

man with face mask and coffee looking at his phone outside
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The CDC's new mask guidelines didn't change much for unvaccinated people. Those who haven't gotten the vaccine can only go unmasked when they are walking, biking, running, or attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends. Any other activities outdoors still require unvaccinated people to wear masks, per CDC guidelines. And for more essential information, Do This Immediately After Getting Your Vaccine, Doctors Say.

Vaccinated people should still wear masks indoors.

Man wearing protective mask to prevent Coronavirus and using mobile phone in airport terminal
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For now, vaccinated people should continue to wear masks during any indoor activities. Wearing a mask and being fully vaccinated makes many risky activities safe, the CDC says. While it's still considered unsafe for unvaccinated people to go to the movies, attend a full-capacity worship service, sing indoors with a chorus, eat indoors, go to a bar, or participate in indoor workout classes, these activities are now considered safe for vaccinated people to do while wearing a mask, according to the latest from the CDC. And for more information on the COVID vaccine delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Vaccinated people still need to wear masks indoors because of breakthrough infections.

Mature man in mask using mobile phone and choosing products in supermarket, potentially for Super Bowl party
FG Trade / iStock

One expert asked the question on many people's minds. "Why doesn't the CDC say, 'Let's rip off our masks and go back into sports arenas and filling up churches'?" James McDeavitt, MD, senior vice president and dean of clinical affairs at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said to NBC. "Because the vaccine is 95 percent effective, not 100 percent."

The CDC has reported over 7,000 breakthrough cases out of more than 87 million vaccinated people. So while the risk of getting COVID when vaccinated is extremely low, it's not zero. And for more on breakthrough infections, The CDC Says People Who Get COVID After Vaccination Have This in Common.

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Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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