Individuals who are fully vaccinated can shed their masks when exercising outdoors and gathering in small groups.
On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control said in a statement that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can go without wearing a mask when they are outdoors and are exercising, with members of their own household, or are attending a small gathering.
The announcement by federal health officials is a major step in the easing of pandemic related restrictions that have been in place for over a year.
However, the CDC did not go as far to say that fully vaccinated people can altogether drop their face coverings when they are outdoors, citing the unknown risk of transmitting the disease and unknown vaccination levels of others.
While this is a promising measure, the CDC still reasserted that individuals should continue wearing face coverings indoors, and that social distancing should still take place no matter the setting.
Officials stated that they hope the easing of these measures for those who are fully vaccinated will help to persuade others who have not been inoculated to receive their shot.
The US has seen a concerning decline in vaccination rates, with average daily administrations dropping below 60,000. Americans are also skipping their second doses at an alarming rate, with 8% of those who received their first shot not showing up to their second one.
The updated guidelines comes after the CDC previously said that fully vaccinated people could gather indoors in small groups without any masks or social distancing, as well as being able to travel without quarantining, as they won’t pose a serious risk to others.
“Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before,” Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC said. “If you are fully vaccinated, things are much safer for you than those who are not fully vaccinated.”