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U.S. CDC says vaccinated people can avoid masks in most places

A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia September 30, 2014.
REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, updated guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.

The CDC also said fully vaccinated people will not need to physically distance in most places. The agency also hopes the guidance will prod more Americans to get vaccinated.

The revised guidance is a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, but the agency still recommends vaccinated people wear masks on planes and trains, and at airports, transit hubs, mass transit and in places like hospitals and doctor’s offices.

The CDC said fully vaccinated people should still wear masks where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, and abide by such rules and regulations, including from local businesses and workplace guidance.

In late April, the CDC said fully vaccinated people can safely engage in outdoor activities like walking and hiking without wearing masks but it recommended continuing to use face-coverings in public spaces where they are required.

In a statement late Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo indicated that the state would further examine the CDC guidance before making changes to the existing mask rules in New York.

“In New York, we have always relied on the facts and the science to guide us throughout the worst of this pandemic and in our successful reopening,” he said. “We have received the newly revised guidance from the CDC regarding mask wearing and social distancing for those with vaccinations and are reviewing them in consultation with [state Health Commissioner] Dr. [Howard] Zucker and our partners and health experts in surrounding states.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the same for New York City in a statement: “We are reviewing the guidance because masks will still be important for schools, public transportation, healthcare and congregate settings and more. But the message is clear: vaccinations are the way to bring our city, our lives, back. Get vaccinated.”

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