You don't have to wear a mask outside with your family if you've been fully vaccinated. 

Updated 2:08 p.m. May 13

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its Covid-19 recommendations yet again, and it’s almost like the pandemic never happened … if you’re vaccinated, of course. 

On Thursday, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people (still not sure what that means? See below.) can basically go anywhere inside or outside sans face mask, unless required by a local, federal, tribal rule/regulation. Before you barge into your closest fast food joint with your face fully exposed, this caveat also includes mask rules from businesses.

According to the rule change, fully vaccinated people also don’t need to get tested or quarantine after a known exposure to Covid-19. 

Here’s a brief summary of the current recommendations for fully vaccinated people (if you’re only partially vaxed or opted to not get poked, these don’t apply to you.) 

  • You can return to pre-pandemic activities sans masks and social distancing, unless required by a local business or a governmental rule. 
  • You can travel domestically without getting a Covid-19 test before or quarantining afterward. As a reminder, masks are federally required in travel hubs, like airports and train stations. 
  • You don’t need to get tested before traveling internationally, unless required by your destination country, and you don’t need to get tested or quarantine when you return to the U.S. 
  • You don’t need to get tested for Covid-19 or quarantine after a known exposure if you’re asymptomatic, unless you work or live in a homeless shelter or a correctional or detention facility. You should still monitor your symptoms, though. 

You can read the full list of regulations here. Or you can look at this nifty graphic

Why the big changes? Well, according to the CDC, there’s “a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection or transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others.” 

It’s still up for debate and investigation how long the vaccine’s protection lasts, and it’s very likely we’ll need boosters (which is definitely not uncommon for vaccines in general), but for now, vaccinated people can return to a cautious normal. 

But if you’re feeling sick and have Covid-19 symptoms, go get tested.

Published 3:15 p.m. Apr 27

So you’ve heard the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said you don’t have to wear a mask anymore. Well, they only sort of said that. 

In new guidelines released Tuesday, the CDC announced that people who have been fully vaccinated can go outside without a mask, except in crowded settings, e.g., if you’re going to a concert at, say, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Just enjoying a picnic at Memorial Park? You don’t have to wear a mask for that.

Before we get any further, here’s a quick reminder of what fully vaccinated actually means: It’s been at least two weeks since your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or at least two weeks since your Johnson & Johnson vaccination. 

Okay, now what else can fully vaxed folks do sans mask? You can gather indoors—in a private setting, like a house—with other people who’ve been fully vaccinated. You can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people, just from one other household. Basically, Aunt Tina can visit with the kids, but if Aunt Karen from Dallas wants to come, too, tell her maybe next time. Of course, if anyone is high risk, you should wear a mask and social distance. 

Another big development: If you’ve been exposed to someone who currently has Covid-19, but you’ve been fully vaccinated, you do not need to isolate or get tested unless you begin to have symptoms. 

The CDC has also provided guidance on what you should keep doing with a mask (or two) firmly on. Keep it on indoors in public settings, like grocery stores and the mall, and gatherings with unvaccinated people from multiple households. Oh hi, Aunt Karen. You should also still avoid large indoor settings. 

You’ll also be required to wear a mask while traveling. For more on CDC guidelines for vaccinated travelers, click here.

If you’re wondering what other activities you can do now, the CDC has a handy chart for indoor and outdoor activities that are safer for fully vaccinated folks. Here are a few highlights: 

Outdoors

  • “Walk, run, or bike outdoors with members of your household” without a mask 
  • “Dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households” 
  • “Attend a crowded, outdoor event, like a live performance, parade, or sports event” with a mask

Indoors 

  • “Go to an uncrowded, indoor shopping center or museum” with a mask 
  • “Go to an indoor movie theater” with a mask 
  • “Participate in an indoor, high intensity exercise class” with a mask 
  • “Sing in an indoor chorus” with a mask
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