The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has relaxed its rules for mask-wearing as long as you've had a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC has updated its guidelines for fully vaccinated people, stating that indoor and outdoor activity without masks and with no physical distances pose a minimal risk so can be resumed unless wearing masks is required by laws and regulations.
The guidance also states that fully vaccinated people can resume traveling domestically without testing and quarantine, and don’t have to test before leaving the US for international travel unless that is required by the country of destination.
The guidance assumes someone is fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine. According to the CDC, 119 million people have been fully vaccinated in the US so far. More than 58 percent of the population has received at least one dose.
As always, guidances aim to apply to a broad swathe of a population, so there are caveats. Currently, it is unknown how long the protection from the vaccines last and there is limited data on vaccine protection in immunocompromised people.
The vaccines also don’t have a 100 percent efficacy against contracting the virus, so a tiny portion of the vaccinated population can likely still catch the virus even though they are very unlikely to experience the most serious consequences of COVID-19. So while the new guidelines relax the stringent rules one had to follow pre-vaccination, it is important to continue to use common sense to keep yourself and others safe.
For more information about COVID-19, check out the IFLScience COVID-19 hub where you can follow the current state of the pandemic, the progress of vaccine development, and further insights into the disease.