CDC Says Vaccinated People Can Gather Indoors Without Masks, Releases Other New Guidelines
On Monday morning, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States released its long-awaited guidelines for people who have recieved both doses of their Covid-19 vaccine. Among other changes, the guidelines say that people who have been fully vaccinated are now free to gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people, and to forego face masks while doing so.
Under a section titled “What’s Changed”, the CDC wrote on Monday that:
If you’ve been fully vaccinated:
You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
Some things, the agency has, haven’t changed. About this, the CDC said:
You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you are:
Gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household
Visiting with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk
You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
You should still delay domestic and international travel. If you do travel, you’ll still need to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.
You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.
The CDC also clarified that much is unknown about the Covid-19 vaccines and their effectiveness in preventing the transmission of disease. More study is needed, the CDC says. And in the agency’s words, “We’re still learning how effective the vaccines are against variants of the virus that causes COVID-19”. For that reason, guidance could change again if new variants begin to spread and vaccines prove less effective in the long term.
Still, the new guidelines are a game changer for people who have received their shots and want to gather with other vaccinated people, as well as for grandparents and others who want to visit with their grandkids or other unvaccinated family members. It also creates the possibility that vaccinated people could potentially gather for events, such as restaurant dining, concerts, worship, etc. down the line.
When can you start to follow these new guidelines? The CDC says that people are considered fully-vaccinated “2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine”.
If you haven’t already, the CDC urges you to register for a vaccine appointment in your own jurisdiction so that you can be ready as soon as possible to follow these new relaxed guidelines. The CDC will likely continue to update the guidelines and make additional recommendations are more information becomes available about the vaccines’ effectiveness and about Covid-19 itself.