Vaccinated people can visit indoors without masks, but must still wear them in public and avoid large gatherings when around those who aren’t immunized or are at high risk for contracting Covid-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
The agency issued its long-awaited guidance for what fully vaccinated people can safely do, as inoculations rise but as health experts warn that the risk of the virus remains, especially with new variants.
Broadly, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people can meet freely in private settings with other fully vaccinated people, but that several restrictions remain, including advising against travel and recommending mask wearing in public.
Two weeks after people receive their final vaccine dose of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines or their one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they’re considered fully immunized and can meet indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or social distancing, the CDC said. Such gatherings are “low risk,” the CDC said.
Those vaccinated also can meet with people who aren’t vaccinated from a single household who are at low risk, without wearing masks or distancing — such as vaccinated grandparents meeting their unvaccinated adult child and that child’s children, providing they’re healthy and not at high risk.
However, the agency estimated that just 10% of the population has been fully vaccinated so far, and recommends that those who are continue to take steps to curb the spread of the virus, particularly as more contagious variants emerge.
“We believe these new recommendations are an important first step in our efforts to resume everyday activities in our communities,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing Monday.
Fully vaccinated people should wear masks and socially distance in public, if they’re visiting with unvaccinated people from more than one household, or when around unvaccinated people who are high risk, such as older people, the CDC said. Most fully vaccinated people don’t need to quarantine and test for Covid-19 if exposed to a case and are asymptomatic, the CDC said. There are some exceptions, such as residents of congregate settings like group homes.
Everyone, regardless of vaccinations, should avoid medium or large gatherings, the CDC said. If they choose to attend anyhow, vaccinated people should wear a mask because they can still relay the virus to those who haven’t been immunized, the CDC said.
The CDC recommendations didn’t include any changes to travel guidance. The CDC continues to urge that people delay travel.
“Every time that there is a surge in travel we have a surge of cases in this country,” Walensky said. “We know that many of our variants have emerged from international places and we know that the travel corridor is a place where people are mixing a lot.”
The CDC is hopeful that by the next update it will have more scientific guidelines as to what vaccinated people can do, “perhaps travel being among them,” Walensky said.
Covid-19 cases and deaths are declining across the country, and more than 9 million people have been fully vaccinated. In the past week, an average of 2.16 million doses per day were administered to Americans. The White House said that all American adults will be able to get a Covid-19 vaccination by the end of May.
Last week Walensky warned of a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections without continued vigilance. President Joe Biden echoed her statement by urging all Americans to keep washing their hands, practice social distancing and wear masks.
“Now is not the time to let our guard down,” Biden said.