Vaccinated Americans Can Go Unmasked Outdoors, CDC Says

Under the new rules, fully vaccinated people can attend a small outdoor gathering maskless or dine at an outdoor restaurant with others, whether they’re fully vaccinated or not. They can also get together indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household without masks or social distancing, according to the agency.

Additionally, inoculated Americans don’t need to be isolated or get tested if they’ve been around someone with Covid-19, unless they have symptoms. If so, get tested and stay home, the agency urges.

For myself, even though I’m way past my second shot of Moderna, I will apply a 2-fold rule:

  • Is it outdoors?
  • Is it socially-distanced, meaning sustained contact is maintained at more than 6 feet apart (with those not in your pod)?

If I can’t say yes to both, I’d wear a mask.

** Vaccinated Americans Can Go Unmasked Outdoors, CDC Says - Bloomberg**


For the past year I’ve been walking around my neighborhood without a mask most of the time. And 99% of the time I’m more than 20 feet from anyone (exception being cars driving alongside me and those people aren’t usually wearing masks).

If someone comes along the pathway and gives me an evil eye because I’m not wearing a mask I have one in my pocket to put on.

It’s great now that I’m immunized that the CDC says I don’t have to wear a mask. But still I’d expect I have to keep one in my pocket for those giving me the evil eye.


I do the same in our courtyard. It’s 3 acres enclosed between 2 buildings, and 2 smaller structures on either side, and most of the time it is pretty empty. Even then, it is easy enough to make like Pac-Man and turn down a walkway to avoid close contact. It’s wonderful to be able to really take in the smells of our little park…

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I am with you. I have been off work with ALL the covid symptoms for a month and I dont ever want to experience anything like it ever again! And if I am carrying the virus around I want to make sure I dont give it to anyone.

I will still wear a mask. With all the variants out there, the fact that people do still catch it even when they’ve been vaccinated, I am in the corner of pro mask wearing. We all could wish for our normal life back, but life is not normal, we are in a worldwide pandemic.

Sure if you are outside and not around anyone, I get it why? But if there is a chance I will wear one.

While you might not get as sick, there is now a death in someone that was vaccinated. And the biggest thing, the people that aren’t vaccinated. While some choose not to, and that is their right, there are some that have issues like me with my allergies that cause a problem with the decision to get vaccinated and the people that outright can’t. (I did get vaccinated) This disease is now attacking more younger people and I think roughly 20% of our population are younger and are not vaccinated. The new strains are more contagious and making younger sicker.

Our island is a good example for one, we were pushed into opening up with only one negative test before you come and now are having cases every day. Over 10% of our total for the past year in just one week. We’ve had our second death and now have community spread which we didn’t have before.

Yet we have one of the highest rates of vaccinations, 80% mask wearing, no large gatherings allowed. In fact it’s mandatory to wear a mask here. They thought this would not happen because of those protections in place, but they think it’s the variants that are part of the problem. And those variants are attacking children more now, we also have a 2 year old that is sick. Look at Michigan who they think just got lax on following guidelines. They are out of control.

A mask is a small price to pay to help keep people safe. Asian countries have been doing it for years.


Lindsey Marr created the graphic below to illustrate the “two-out-of-three rule” she recommends. She is one of the world’s leading experts on viral transmission.

The article below goes more in-depth in her recommendations.

Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’ve been wearing a mask outdoors to be polite to neighbors. I think that as long as case counts are low enough and I’m able to social distance, then wearing a mask outside is unnecessary. With this new CDC guidance, I won’t wear a mask outside unless I cannot social distance. I think people benefit from seeing and connecting with other people which is much more feasible without a mask.

This last year has been emotionally draining enough. There is no need to create barriers in connecting with others (eg. Masks) in circumstances that experts are saying masks are unnecessary. It just adds to the emotional isolation and exhaustion many people are feeling now without providing any benefit.

Also, the graphic above applies whether vaccinated or not. Lindsey Marr has been following these rules/recommendations for the last year.

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I showed up for my vaccine three weeks ago and was literally turned away due to allergy concerns. Not even my decision or hesitation, it was the doctors at the vaccination site who decided they didn’t want to take that risk. I now have a note from my allergist and a new appointment for this weekend booked, so fingers crossed things go more smoothy.

Interestingly, in my province they are saying masks and distancing are needed even for outdoor gatherings with your bubble. All indoor socializing and gatherings have been banned here since November (through until at least late May, depending on how cases go). But we’re also in the midst of our worst wave of the pandemic yet. Technically, one isn’t required to wear a mask when walking alone outside, but I do (as do many others) becuase I live downtown and when I go for walks I pass dozens of people.

I guess one good thing about Canada spreading the vaccine doses out by four months is that by the time everyone is fully vaccinated (by early fall, hopefully) we should have a better idea of how well they work against variants and such. I definitely plan to hang onto my mask as I think, even if there are some situations where it’s safe to not wear one, it’ll be needed for at least the remainder of this year.

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I’m sorry you’re experiencing this right now.

I agree that stronger precautions are needed if/when the virus is widespread and your community is experiencing a surge.

I hope your next vaccination appointment works out. :crossed_fingers:

Per our health department announcements here it was at first if you have allergies, that was quickly changed to if you have allergies to medications, then it was changed to if you have allergies to injectable medications. My doctor was saying it really was only a problem with a history of reactions to injectable vaccinations. But the health department head here hadn’t changed her stance of don’t get it if you’ve had a problem with injectables. ( I haven’t kept up on what is being said now) I really didn’t know if they would let me get it either until I actually was given one.

I relatively was okay, I mostly did not like the moodiness that seemed to accompany it. I got the J&J one.

Yeah, though it’s not just my community, it’s Canada as a whole. Much of the country is under lockdown so hopefully things will improve soon, but things are really bad in some areas. As much as the USA handled many aspects of the pandemic poorly, they got the really fast vaccine rollout right, and that has paid off! The problem here is the variants are spreading and a vast majority of the population is still unvaccinated.

I’m glad your appointment went smoothly. I’ll be getting one of the mRNA vaccines, and I believe Health Canada’s only contraindication is if you have a known life-threatening reaction to an ingredient in the vaccine or have had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of the mRNA vaccine. I don’t have either, but my allergy history is quite complex, so when we were going over allergies they just weren’t comfortable doing the shot. (They had no problem with a history of anaphylaxis from food nor a history of local swelling to vaccines; just said I’d be observed for 30 minutes instead of 15 after the shot.) My GP said I was the only patient he’d heard of being turned away. My allergist had no concerns and says I’m not at an increased risk of having a severe reaction.


I looked up case counts per million in Canada vs. United Stares, and the numbers are actually not that far apart. The U.S. certainly came down from a huge peak, but my community is still considered to be a very high risk.

Our cases peaked in January at about 250,000 per day which I think translates to Canada having about 29,000 cases per day (330 mill people live in U.S. and 38 mill live in Canada).

B117 is considered to be widespread throughout the U.S… I guess there’s just a feeling of hope in my community despite the numbers because of the vaccinations.

It looks like about 30% of Canadians have 1 dose. I hope more people are able to get vaccinated soon.

I think it can be hard to compare countries sometimes, becuase for example the USA has always been so much worse than Canada over the course of the pandemic. So the fact that we’re now “not that far apart” shows just how bad things have gotten here compared to how we’ve managed thus far. Our hospital systems are definitely strained and overwhelmed in several provinces, which is my main gauge for how bad things are. I read that Canada has fewer hospital beds per capita than many developed countries, so we’re more sensitive to smaller surges.

At least in my province, this current record-breaking surge in cases and hospitalizations also happened without easing any restrictions. We went from, “Everything’s under control, great job everyone, maybe we can start to lift restrictions soon!” to literally a week later, “Community transmission has skyrocketed, cases are spreading exponentially, we need a circuit-breaker lockdown immediately!” Similar scenarios played out in nearly every province and territory at some point this spring.

I think there’s no doubt the vaccines have helped the USA and are offering at least some protection against rapid rises in cases. Which is great! Hopefully things continue to improve so restrictions are able to be safely lifted eventually for both of us.

I hope you’re able to get vaccinated soon. I know I breathed a sigh of relief once that first shot was in my arm. Studies have shown that even just two weeks after the first dose of mRNA vaccines you have 80% protection against infection (likely even higher against illness).

These vaccines are pretty amazing. I’m very grateful for modern-day medicine.


I think this is the kind of poor messaging that’s plagued the entire government response all along and caused so many Americans to just not take them seriously. Vaccinated adults can now be outside, distanced, without masks on? Wtf really? Why not wait until they actually had something worthwhile to say before saying anything and further risking credibility… why not wait until some studies are published, showing what every educated person knows is the case— that vaccinated individuals become infected and spread infection tremendously less than unvaccinated— then explain the science clearly to the public to help dispel the rampant misinformation campaign that “the vaccine doesn’t keep you from getting it or spreading it, it only lessens symptoms”. Instead of just blurting out absurdities like you can now go outside alone without a mask

Although I can appreciate the all or nothing aspect of mask wearing, personally, this isn’t confusing information. It has long been true that if one can socially distance, particularly if the distance is larger than 6 feet, and is outdoors, one is fairly safe from infection, even if unvaccinated. Granted, very low risk is not no risk, but it is comparatively of little consequence.

In the areas of Manhattan I visit, up until this recent announcement, almost everyone - 99+% - wore masks outdoors while walking, regardless of distance and regardless of vaccination status, the exceptions being crowded party areas of 20-somethings. Now, the walls come have down a bit, but still, everyone has masks on indoors and most people wear masks outdoors. I still wear my masks when walking down the street, even when almost completely alone, partially because it is easier than having to frequently move my mask up or down.

As for the CDC messaging, although things were mishandled in the beginning, it has been fairly linear since then, and if one is reading the news and journals, this new guidance is in line with what we know about risk. One could actually argue that they could have said this sooner. As an aside, it might even be a messaging ploy to incentive some people to get vaccinated.

BTW, we are still super careful, wash our hands when coming in from the outside, even if we haven’t touched anything. We still wipe down grocery deliveries, but will likely stop that soon. It’s just the idea of anything infectious that drives this bit of craziness, but we are a bit happier that way, feeling just a bit more secure, without intrusive irrational concerns about cleanliness.

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@Sam19 - This is what I really think terrible. They kept opening restaurants and risky environments - I am not unsympathetic to the people that work in the industry - and of course, things kept getting worse. Everywhere, at least in the states I have have been watching, NJ, Florida, California, Vermont, and Massachusetts, it has been getting better, but I worry that this change is too much and too fast:

Sudden Decision to Reopen Leaves New Yorkers Dizzy and Divided - The New York Times (

Regardless of the people around us, we know how to be be safe, so I hope I can stay above the fray…

I agree with you, but my community doesn’t appear to. It is a social norm here to wear a mask even when you can distance properly. People can be pretty intense about it. Lots of rude looks thrown at anyone walking around without a mask on. People seem to be mostly fine with people who are sitting down in the park, stationary, removing their mask. But there have been times where I’m amazed by the judgement being tossed around when masks truly are unnecessary.

I think the media has contributed to this problem. I feel like I’m always reading headlines of doom with a picture of a relatively crowded beach or park. People are often social distanced in the picture so it is a ridiculous visual to attach to that headline. Super-spreader events aren’t happening at the park or the beach. These are not the dangerous places where the virus is easily spread. Some states/countries shut these outdoor sites down, and then people, still being human and feeling tremendous isolation, find less safe environments to connect socially with other people.

I think the U.S. government made so many missteps last year, it seems almost impossible to recover. Some of the missteps occurred globally. If we’d acknowledged the role aerosols played early on, then we could’ve targeted our mitigation strategies effectively. Instead loads of money has been spent on strategies that had little to no effect. The CDC only recognized that surfaces are not a primary mode of transmission within the last couple months. I’ve been following epidemiologists throughout the pandemic and knew that surfaces weren’t an issue last summer. I haven’t been wiping my groceries down since. I still wash my hands regularly and take some precautions regarding high-touch surfaces.

I am concerned about the pace of reopening, but these vaccines are highly effective. Thankfully vaccine demand is still high in my community. I expect we’ll hit the 70% target by July 4th. I think things will slowly get better throughout the year.

I’m hopeful that the new CDC guidance will direct people toward the safer activities outside in the meantime.

When I mentioned a 2-fold rule in the initial post, I was thinking of the same material you posted. At one end of the spectrum is the highest risk, closed rooms, close and sustained contact with the unvaccinated. Obviously, it’s even worse with those actively infected. As the other end of the spectrum is outdoors, with distanced and fleeting contact or short duration, with the lowest being when vaccinated, but even when unvaccinated it would still be low. Still, there are those more risk averse than others, with concerns about variants getting past their defenses, so still keep up high barriers, only meeting with other vaccinated individuals in open space and socially distanced. For myself, I don’t want to let down too much, so wear a mask when walking down Manhattan streets, and only lower it if the street is truly empty, and we do plan on small family dinners - three and all vaccinated, of course - indoors in apartments.

Do We Still Need to Keep Wearing Masks Outdoors? - The New York Times (

Yeah, sorry if my post came across wrong. My point was simply that while it may have long been true that it is relatively safe to be socially distanced outside, the CDC’s guidance on the matter has been limited until now. The result is that people seem to be focusing on the wrong activities when taking precautions.

I think your 2-fold rule is a good approach.

I guess my post was more in response to this comment:

I think they’re way past late. If their messaging was linear, then it’s a line pointing toward late and unhelpful. People have been shamed for relatively safe behaviors for nearly a year now. The CDC lost a lot of credibility in my eyes. I wouldn’t consider them the best source of information in the future. In fact, their continued insistence on large droplets as the primary form of transmission (changed only recently) has likely cost many, many lives. If aerosols had been acknowledged early on, people could have understood better why some environments were more risky than others.

Feels like quite a treat now, doesn’t it? My husband gets his second dose tomorrow. I’m looking forward to going to a friends for dinner with him or having friends over at our place in a couple weeks.

Agreed that we all have different levels of risk aversion. Hopefully, those that are more risk averse better understand the environments to avoid following the recently released CDC guidance. It has been challenging to navigate whether one is taking needed precautions or simply being paranoid. Having a clear message on safe activities can alleviate some of the anxiety associated with those choices.

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I don’t know if your post came across wrong, unless you feel that way. To be honest, I take my information loosely anyway and get upset with very little, but I understand that others have different responses and expectations for an organization like the CDC.

I never really followed the guidance explicitly. It get weighed among our many sources, major newspapers, science publications, research bulletins, and that can get debated among friends. Yes there were problems with the prior administration conflicting the CDC, and the CDC with its own wrong guidance, but even then, the CDC as a science-driven organization is slow to change it’s recommendations, like WHO, waiting until reliable studies are published. Sometimes, they can’t make recommendations because there is no science. Even then, the concept of risk is different at scale and in proportion to a larger risk. Personal risk might be low, but cumulatively it can add up to a larger problem if the direction is taken too loosely or incorrectly.

Lowering the bar accurately can still cause problems when it starts to get applied laxly. As with distancing, when is a crowd a crowd? Something that feels uncrowded for some is too busy for others, and objectively, there is no guidance for what is too dense, e.g., x people per x square meters is a crowd. More so, when is outdoors outdoors? Sometimes it is very clear, but restaurants constructed structures that are partially open, some with better outdoor air circulation. My sense is that partially closed is closed, but others will interpret that differently.