US CDC says fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks outside

More than 95 million people in the country have received both doses of vaccine

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday that fully vaccinated Americans would no longer have to wear a face mask outside, but stopped short of removing a mask mandate for all situations.

The CDC still urges all Americans to wear masks in medium to large-sized gatherings, such as concerts or sporting events, as well as when visiting shopping malls and places of worship and during travel.

President Joe Biden made short remarks outside the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

"We've made stunning progress because of all of you, the American people," he said of the many people vaccinated in the first 100 days of his presidency.

Mr Biden also personally exemplified the new CDC guidance for fully vaccinated people by not wearing a face mask when walking back to the White House.

He answered a reporter's question on this, saying it was an example: "Watching me take it off and not putting it back on until I get inside."

"Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before," CDC chief Dr Rochelle Walensky said.

The guidance had been that people should wear face masks if they came within six feet of each other in all environments.

"You can gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues," said the new CDC advisory for fully vaccinated people, though it added that fully vaccinated people should still follow the rules set by their workplace.

According to the US health agency, people are fully vaccinated two weeks after their final Covid-19 vaccine – two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

More than 95 million people in the US – about 28.9 per cent of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

More than 140 million people – about 42.5 per cent of the population – have had at least one dose.

Anyone aged 16 or older is eligible to receive a vaccine in all US states and territories.

"Go get the shot," Mr Biden told all unvaccinated Americans in his remarks.

He added that vaccinated individuals are "doing their patriotic duty".

As for unvaccinated people venturing outdoors, the CDC guidance says that anyone can walk, run or cycle outside without a mask if they are alone. The same guidance applies if they are with people from their household.

The updated guidance comes in a time in which many people are debating the need for face masks outside, though research has shown that outdoor spaces are safer than indoor ones when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Health officials and scientists have yet to officially determine whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others.

Some research has shown transmission after vaccination is significantly less likely, though how and when a vaccinated person could transmit the virus remains unknown.

“Odds of getting the virus is very, very low if you've both been vaccinated and are in the open air," Mr Biden said.

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