"We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Thursday.
*Originally published on May 13, 2021, at 12:58 p.m. (MT):
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Thursday afternoon at a White House briefing that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks, indoors or outdoors, or physically distance while in large and small groups.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, "We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy. 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."
"Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities—large or small—without wearing a mask or physically distancing," Walensky said. "If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic."
However, those fully vaccinated are still advised to wear masks in crowded indoor settings, like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters.
Walensky also mentioned that immunocompromised people should consult their doctor before going mask-free. But she warned, "This virus can be unpredictable, so if things get worse there is always a chance we need to make a change to these recommendations."
Should people start developing possible COVID-19 symptoms, they are advised to go back to wearing masks and get tested right away, Walensky said.
*This is an on-going story and will be updated as more information is known. Refresh for updates!