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CDC Just Issued This Big New Mask Guidance

From outdoors to indoors, here is when you still need to wear a mask 

Now that you are fully vaccinated, is it safe to return to your favorite activities? During today's White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), went over the newly updated CDC guidance, detailing everything you can and can't do. "I know that the quarantine and shutdowns throughout the pandemic have been exhausting. I know that we all miss the things that we used to do before the pandemic. And I know that we all want to get back to doing those things that we love, and soon. Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before," Dr. Walensky stated. "Over the past year we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do. Today I'm going to tell you some of the things you can do, if you are fully vaccinated." (As a reminder, the CDC defines "fully vaccinated" as 14 days after your second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 14 days after your single dose of a J&J vaccine.) Read on to find out what you can and can't do if you are vaccinated—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.


Indoor Activities

Waitress in medical mask inviting customer

Whether you are vaccinated or not, the CDC recommends wearing a mask whenever you are indoors and around others. "We know that the virus spreads very well indoors. Until more people are vaccinated and while we still have more than 50,000 cases a day, mask use indoors will provide extra protection," Dr. Walensky explained. "The examples today show that when you are fully vaccinated, you can return to many activities safely." 


Less Safe: Visiting a Barber Shop or Salon

A hairdresser, wearing a protective face mask, works in a barber shop

It still isn't safe to go to a barber shop or salon even if you are vaccinated, according to the CDC. They recommend everyone in these places to wear a mask.


Less Safe: Visiting an Uncrowded Indoor Mall or Museum

woman wearing a face mask checking her phone in a shopping mall.

Going shopping or perusing artwork? The CDC suggests wearing a mask in both scenarios, even if the places aren't crowded. 


Less Safe: Riding Public Transport with Limited Occupancy

sinesswoman wearing protective mask while traveling by public transportation.

Even if you are on a bus, subway, or train that isn't very crowded, you still need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. 


Less Safe: Attending a Small, Indoor Gathering 

friends drinking coffee

An indoor gathering with both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people from multiple households isn't a very safe option and both groups should wear masks.


Least Safe: Going to an Indoor Movie Theater

People in cinema with protection mask keeping distance away to avoid physical contact

Unfortunately, going to see a summer blockbuster at an indoor theater still is considered risky. If you do decide to take in an indoor flick, make sure to keep your mask on even if you are fully vaccinated. 


Least Safe: Attending a Full-Capacity Worship Service

A young couple in face masks praying in a church during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Worshipping in a packed service is still not considered safe by the CDC. If you do opt to go to a fully capacity service, the CDC stresses the importance of wearing a mask, even if you are vaccinated. 


Least Safe: Singing in an Indoor Chorus

Members of a choir singing in face masks.

Early on in the pandemic it was established that viral particles spread easily when singing. Therefore, if you are part of a chorus and are singing indoors, it is crucial to wear a protecting face covering. 


Least Safe: Eating Inside a Restaurant or Bar

Hispanic young woman having drink in cafe during coronavirus outbreak

Indoor dining is still not a safe activity, per the CDC—even if you are vaccinated. 


Least Safe: Exercising in an Indoor, High Intensity Class

Female athlete with protective face mask doing plank exercise with hand weights in a gym.

While outdoor exercise isn't very risky, taking a high intensity workout class in an indoor setting is, and all who opt to do it should be wearing a mask. 


Outdoor Activities


For the majority of outdoor activities, if you are fully vaccinated you don't need to mask up. However, if you aren't vaccinated, the CDC recommends wearing a mask for most. "On the CDC website, we have posted examples of numerous outdoor activities that are safe to do without a mask," Dr. Walensky stated. "If you are fully vaccinated, generally for vaccinated people, outdoor activities, without a mask are safe."


Safest: Exercise Outdoors with Household Members

Muscular strong guy and girl in training suit working out at outdoor gym.

Anyone who is exercising outdoors with people who live inside of their home doesn't need to wear a mask, per the CDC. 


Safest: Small Outdoor Gathering with Fully Vaccinated People

Friends drinking spritz at cocktail bar with face masks

If everyone is vaccinated, there is no need to wear a mask at an outdoor gathering with people from separate households. 


Safest: Small Outdoor Gathering with Vaccinated and Unvaccinated People

Senior woman and daughter with face masks having coffee with safety distance

If you're fully vaccinated, the CDC says you can now take your mask off at small outdoor gatherings. However, those who haven't gotten their shots should keep their masks on. 


Less Safe: Dining Outdoors with People From Multiple Households

A grandfather having a conversation with his grandson at a party

When dining al fresco with people from various households unvaccinated people should wear a mask, while those who are fully vaccinated don't need to. 

RELATED: Most COVID Patients Did This Before Getting Sick


Least Safe: Attending a Crowded, Outdoor Event

Girl enjoying the outdoor music festival concert. -

Unfortunately, even though a concert, parade or sporting event may be held outdoors, if there is a big crowd it still isn't safe and the CDC recommends everyone masking up. Why? Dr. Walensky explains that there is "decreased ability to maintain physical distance" and there are likely many people attending who aren't vaccinated.


Get Vaccinated So You Can Do Your Favorite Activities

Female patient smiling behind the face mask and with her eyes, while getting flu shot

"If you are fully vaccinated, things are much safer for you than those who are not yet fully vaccinated," Dr. Walensky pointed out. "I am optimistic that people will use this information to take personal responsibility, to protect themselves and to protect others. And I hope will encourage people to get fully vaccinated." And, keep following Dr. Anthony Fauci's 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