On Thursday the CDC announced that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID no longer need to wear masks or physically distance indoors or outdoors in most circumstances, meaning with some exceptions.
“…fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” read a statement on the CDC website.
Fully vaccinated people can also refrain from testing following a known exposure unless they are residents or employees of a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter read the guidance.
“We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
“Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines, and our understanding of how the virus spreads…that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated.”
Americans can also resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel and from self-quarantine after travel. The requirements to wear masks during travel are still in effect.
Although there have been a small number of “breakthrough” infections among vaccinated people, all in all, vaccines have been shown to work. Walensky cited three studies, one from Israel and two from the United States, that show that vaccines are effective.
Fully vaccinated people should get tested if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, says the CDC and continue to follow health department travel requirements and regulations.
The news comes over a year after the CDC recommended people wear masks to protect against COVID. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks following their last COVID shot. Those with compromised immune systems should consult their doctor before tossing the mask, said Walensky.
It’s not yet clear how this announcement will impact New Jersey but Gov. Murphy last week said: “Should the CDC … revise its 6-foot distancing guidance, we will revise our requirements accordingly.”
NJ recently removed many COVID restrictions, such as capacity limits at restaurants, stores and offices. Today was also the first day kids 12 and older became eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. It’s not yet known when a vaccine will be available for kids younger than 12.