Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now go maskless both indoors as well as outdoors and are no longer required to maintain social distancing, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) announced Thursday. The surprising declaration from CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Wallensky immediately created an overwhelming sense of freedom mixed with some hesitancy and confusion. Twitter users began cautiously celebrating, while still asking the questions that always go with a new announcement from the CDC.
The White House celebrated the new guidelines lifting mask requirements for people fully vaccinated. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and a group of senators took their masks off during an Oval Office meeting. First Lady Jill Biden, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and actress Jennifer Garner took their masks off during a trip to a high school in West Virginia following the announcement.
Under the CDC’s new guidance, people who are fully vaccinated (meaning, two weeks removed from their second shot or their one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) no longer need to wear masks or physically distance themselves, indoors or outdoors in most circumstances.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Dr. Walensky said. “We have all longed for this moment where we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
Dr. Walensky said the CDC was making the move now because of a significant drop in cases, widespread availability of the vaccine, and real-world data showing the vaccine’s effectiveness
UPDATE: If you are fully vaccinated against #COVID19, you can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, incl. local business and workplace guidance. More: https://t.co/FJMon7WlFO
— CDC (@CDCgov) May 13, 2021
White House staffers were also sent an email announcing that effective immediately, anyone working on the campus who is fully vaccinated is no longer required to wear a mask on the White House complex, and soon White House aides were seen working in the building without a mask for the first time since President Biden took office.
The White House Correspondents Association sent an email to members on Thursday saying that effective immediately, the mask-wearing requirements for reporters on the White House grounds were lifted for those fully vaccinated.
Big news from the CDC: If you’re fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask – indoors or outdoors, in most settings.
We’ve gotten this far. Whether you choose to get vaccinated or wear a mask, please protect yourself until we get to the finish line. pic.twitter.com/XI4yPmhWaD
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 13, 2021
President Biden addressed the nation and the press regarding the new guidelines, thanking Americans for their sacrifice during the biggest healthcare crisis in the nation in a century.
“All of us, let’s be patient, be patient with one another,” the President said, acknowledging some Americans might be hesitant about removing their masks after more than a year of living in a pandemic that has killed more than 580,000 in the U.S. and more than 3.3 million people worldwide.
This is where I’m kind of at with this news. I’m happy to hear this, but…I have questions. https://t.co/Io3JrUcHCZ
— Frank Garcia-Hejl (@frankgarciahejl) May 13, 2021
Just two weeks ago, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks indoors in all settings and outdoors in large crowds.
Pres. Biden after CDC says fully-vaccinated Americans can return to life without masks:
— ABC News (@ABC) May 13, 2021
Watch the President’s remarks, below.