Skip to content

CDC Says When You Can Take Your Mask Off

Here is when it is safe to remove your facial covering.

With COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths dropping around the country, many people want to know if wearing a mask is still necessary. According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in many cases it is. During the United States Senate Committee Hearing entitled An Update from Federal Officials on Efforts to Combat COVID-19 on Tuesday, she talked about when it is okay to take off your mask. Read on to hear exactly what she had to say—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and Don't Know It.


It Depends on Where in the Country You Are

woman with mask walking in nearly empty new york street

Dr. Walensky started by explaining that the CDC makes recommendations for the country as a whole, even though some areas are less risky in terms of transmission than others. "I think it's important to realize that we at CDC are responsible for putting out guidance for individuals, as well as for populations for public health," she said. "We're responsible for putting out guidance for counties that have less than five cases per a hundred thousand and for counties that have greater than a hundred cases per hundred thousand, as well as for counties that have less than 10% of people activated and counties that have more than 50% of people vaccinated. Our guidance has to be science-based for all of these situations." Keep reading to find out when anyone can take off their mask.


Here's When You Can Take Your Mask Off

Woman with face mask getting vaccinated, coronavirus, covid-19 and vaccination concept.

As to when you can take your mask off, she pointed toward recently updated guidance, offering situation-by-situation suggestions as to when it is safe. Vaccinated or not, you can:

  • Take your mask off for a walk, run or hike with members of your household.
  • Take your mask off to attend small, outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends.

Vaccinated people can also:

  • Take their mask off at a small outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • Dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households.

"In our last iteration of what vaccinated people can do safely, we did update our guidance, not only for not wearing masks outdoors, but also for not wearing masks outdoors in certain settings where people who are unvaccinated in those situations," said Walensky. "We also said if people are gathered with other unvaccinated people dining with their masks off and close by, there may be a risk to that."


Summer Camp Guidance Will Change

Boy throwing balls up by using rainbow parachute

She also revealed that summer camp guidance will likely change in the next few weeks. "I think it's also really important to recognize that now with vaccination of 12 to 15 year olds, our summer camp guidance is probably going to have to change in those settings and we plan to do so."

RELATED: Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers


Do Your Part In Ending the Pandemic 

Young man wearing two face masks.

So follow public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah