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CDC Says Families Can Be Outside Without Masks — Even Without Vaccine

The CDC just announced new guidelines for fully vaccinated people today — including outdoor masking.

On Tuesday, April 27, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated the country’s mask-wearing guidelines, and recommendations for people who are outdoors and are fully vaccinated.

This all comes shortly after the CDC officially recommended pregnant people get the vaccine, 52 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and quite some time after the CDC released general vaccinated guidelines on gathering with others and traveling in early March.

The updates reflect the scientific fact that not only are fully vaccinated people far less likely to spread the deadly virus but that the outdoors is not a meaningful vector of transmission of COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know about the update — and if you can start going on outdoor runs without wearing a mask again any time soon.

The Outdoor Mask Guidance Has Been Updated — What to Know

The new guidance says that vaccinated (and unvaccinated) people can go maskless while walking, jogging, biking outside with household members, when not in crowded outdoor settings.

The new guidelines also urge both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks when going to things like parades, sporting events, and live performances. While unvaccinated people can do these things, they should know that they are at a higher risk than fully vaccinated people when partaking in these activities.

Vaccinated people can, without masks: exercise with members of their household outdoors, attend small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends, attend small gatherings with mixes of people outdoors, and dine at outdoor restaurants with friends. (Unvaccinated people can do the same things, except should wear masks when attending outdoor gatherings, going to outdoor restaurants, and attending crowded events, with varying levels of risk, the chart shows below.)

Indoor activities remain unchanged, in the sense that the CDC still recommends people wear masks indoors in public spaces (like at church, at the movies, at a restaurant when not eating, or riding public transport, etc) for everyone regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated. However, those activities are all safer for people who are fully vaccinated.

Alongside the new guidance includes a chart that color-codes activities by risk. The lowest risk activities are small, outdoor gatherings, while high-risk activities include indoor settings with singing, shouting, inability to maintain distance from others, like exercise class or a concert.

People with underlying health conditions should talk to their doctors about personal protection against COVID-19.

What Does This Mean for Kids (and Families)? 

As of right now, only children as young as 16 are able to receive COVID-19 vaccines, which makes the guidance a bit limited. So, even though you and your unvaccinated kids can gather outdoors maskless, that’s up to you as to whether or not you’re willing to accept the moderate risk that comes with that behavior. 

All of that being said, fully vaccinated people can enjoy the outdoors without masks starting today, in small groups, when not in large crowds, and safely.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told George Stephanopoulos that the risk of outdoor transmission is “really, really quite low… I believe what the country is going to be hearing soon is updated guidelines from the CDC. The data backs it up.”