CDC relaxes outdoor mask guidelines Biden speech explains

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday (April 27) relaxed its outdoor mask guidelines. People fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear a mask when walking, hiking, biking, running alone or gathering in small groups outdoors, but they still need to wear a mask in crowded settings. President Biden explained the new guidelines that day.

The CDC said vaccinated individuals should also still wear masks in indoor and outdoor public places where there is a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, such as concerts, sporting events and other crowded settings.

The CDC also said fully vaccinated people should still wear masks when having indoor parties with unvaccinated people or when going to barbershops, hair salons, shopping malls, museums, movie theaters or crowded places of worship. Vaccinated people should also wear a mask if they sing in an indoor choir.

President Biden reiterated the CDC’s latest vaccination guidelines in a speech on the North Lawn of the White House Tuesday.

“Earlier today, the CDC made a major announcement. Starting today, if you’re fully vaccinated and you’re outdoors and you’re not in a large crowd, you can go without a mask.” Biden said. However, he also stressed that masks are still required in crowded spaces, such as concerts, even when outdoors.

Biden added that if it’s a gathering with a group of friends in a park or going on a picnic, “you can get away with not wearing a mask.”

“If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things indoors and outdoors more safely.” Biden continued, “For those who haven’t been vaccinated, this is another good reason to get vaccinated. It’s to save your life and the lives of those around you, and it’s to get back on track.”

Earlier Tuesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 briefing prior to Biden’s speech that current scientific evidence shows that in many cases, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks, especially when outdoors.

Valensky further said that those who are fully vaccinated, either 14 days after their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccination or two weeks after receiving a dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, can attend small outdoor gatherings with vaccinated or unvaccinated people or dine with friends from multiple families without having to wear a mask.

During the briefing, Walensky also said that less than 10 percent of documented transmission of the virus occurs outdoors and that the CDC has an incentive to update its guidelines as vaccination rates increase and the rate of new cases decreases.

The CDC says on its website that fully vaccinated people can gather or conduct activities outdoors without masks, except in certain crowded settings and venues. The update also clarifies that fully vaccinated employees no longer need to be restricted from work after exposure to environments where the virus may have been transmitted, as long as they do not develop symptoms.