To entice vaccine-hesitant, Biden touts maskless activities for vaccinated

The most powerful man on Earth speaks into multiple microphones.
Enlarge / President Joe Biden speaks on the North Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday updated masking guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated, now saying that they no longer need to wear a mask when outdoors with members of their household or when attending small, outdoor gatherings with unvaccinated people.

“Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a press briefing Tuesday. “There are many situations where fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask, particularly if they are outdoors.”

The new guidance by the CDC lays out several examples of when fully vaccinated people can safely bare their faces.

They include:

  • Going for a walk, run, or bike ride outdoors with members of your household
  • Attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends
  • Attending a small, outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • Dining at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households

The CDC considers people fully vaccinated once they’re 14 days past receiving the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines or 14 days after receiving one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The bottom line is clear,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday, in unmasked, outdoor remarks from the north lawn of the White House. “If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors.”

“So for those who haven’t gotten their vaccination yet—especially if you’re younger or thinking you don’t need it—this is another great reason to go get vaccinated—now, now,” Biden continued.

For larger outdoor gatherings and crowds—such as outdoor sporting events, parades, or live performances, where physical distancing can’t be maintained—fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask, the CDC says. “We will continue to recommend this until widespread vaccination is achieved,” Walensky said in the briefing.

The agency noted that it is also safe for unvaccinated people to go maskless if they walk, run, or bike outdoors—but only with members of their own household. Unvaccinated people can also masklessly attend small, outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends. That guidance mirrors updated guidance from March noting that fully vaccinated people can visit unvaccinated, low-risk people indoors without precautions, such as masks.

Still, many indoor situations call for mask use among fully vaccinated people, the CDC notes. Fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask if they:

  • Visit a barber or hair salon
  • Go to an uncrowded, indoor shopping center or museum
  • Ride public transport with limited occupancy
  • Attend a small, indoor gathering of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people from multiple households
  • Go to an indoor movie theater
  • Attend a full-capacity worship service
  • Sing in an indoor chorus
  • Eat at an indoor restaurant or bar
  • Participate in an indoor, high-intensity exercise class

The CDC notes that people who are immunocompromised should consult with their doctors about easing any health precautions, such as masking, even if they are fully vaccinated.