A big move by the CDC: The agency on Thursday eased indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places. The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters, but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues—even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated, per the AP. The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds. The announcement comes as the CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated people—people who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose—in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot.
“This is a day that I think will be marked as a true turning point in the pandemic in the United States," says Richard Besser, former acting director of the CDC, per the Washington Post. “The idea that people who are fully vaccinated can take off their masks, can go outside, can go inside, be around people, and not have to worry about COVID anymore, that’s absolutely huge." Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, announced the new guidance on Thursday afternoon at a White House briefing, saying the long-awaited change is thanks to millions of people getting vaccinated—and based on the latest science about how well those shots are working. Just two weeks ago, the CDC recommended that fully vaccinated people continue to wear masks indoors in all settings and outdoors in large crowds. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)