Share on Pinterest
Face coverings are no longer necessary outdoors for fully vaccinated people when walking, exercising, socializing, or dining at outdoor venues. Noam Galai/Getty Images
  • U.S. health authorities announced revised mask use guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated.
  • Now, fully vaccinated people no longer require face coverings when engaging in outdoor activities like walking, exercising, socializing, or even dining with friends at outdoor venues.
  • Masks are still advised when attending large crowded outdoor events.

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal health officials announced today that people who are fully vaccinated can now go maskless outdoors.

According to the revised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, face coverings are no longer necessary outdoors for fully vaccinated people when walking, exercising, socializing, or even dining with friends at outdoor venues.

“Outdoor activity really is a very safe environment,” Dr. Eric Cioe-Peña, director of global health at Northwell Health in New York, told Healthline. “There’s very little evidence of viral spread, mask or not.”

Cioe-Peña added that he applauds the CDC for instituting sensible public health guidance but cautioned, “The advice is not monolithic but instead acknowledges our evolving science and understanding of COVID.”

According to the CDC’s revised guidance, you can start doing many things maskless that you couldn’t because of the pandemic — if you’re fully vaccinated.

However, when choosing “safer” activities, the CDC advises people to consider how COVID-19 is spreading in their community, how many people are participating in an activity, and the location.

“Outdoor visits and activities are safer than indoor activities, and fully vaccinated people can participate in some indoor events safely, without much risk,” state the guidelines.

The CDC considers people fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The CDC provides useful information about what “safer activities” fully vaccinated people can now enjoy maskless.

These include:

  • attending small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people
  • walking, running, or biking outdoors with members of your household

However, there are still situations when fully vaccinated people will have to keep covered up, like when:

  • attending a crowded outdoor event, like a live performance, parade, or sports event
  • riding public transportation with limited occupancy

“Data indicates that for the most part, SARS-CoV-2 spreads indoors and there is minimal transmission outdoors, other than in limited or particular situations,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

He also said masks should be used in the setting of large outdoor gatherings where people are in close proximity for a prolonged time, including sporting events, protests, or rallies.

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people may resume domestic travel. They are not required to test for the coronavirus before or after travel and do not need to self-quarantine after travel.

For international travel, fully vaccinated people no longer must test for the coronavirus before leaving the United States unless it’s required by the destination. They do not have to self-quarantine after returning.

Fully vaccinated people also don’t need to test or quarantine after a known exposure to COVID-19, and no longer need to undergo routine testing if they’re asymptomatic (with exceptions for specific settings).

Guidelines for fully vaccinated people specify that they wear a face mask when attending “indoor large-sized in-person gatherings.”

The CDC doesn’t define exactly how many people constitute a large gathering.

But the agency’s website does describe a “large gathering” as bringing together “many people from multiple households in a private or public space.”

The CDC also advises both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to continue wearing masks in indoor public spaces, such as malls, theaters, or museums.

Glatter recommended a good rule of thumb when deciding when you should wear your mask.

“A good rule of thumb is that if you are indoors, wearing a mask and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance are essential,” he said. “If you are outdoors with at least 6 feet of distance, masks are not necessary.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a press briefing April 27 that she hopes the new guidance will encourage more Americans to get vaccinated, reported CNBC.

“Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before,” she said. “If you are fully vaccinated, things are much safer for you than those who are not fully vaccinated.”

President Biden was more cautious in his comments about the revised guidelines on Tuesday.

“I want to be clear: If you’re in a crowd like a stadium or at a concert, you still need to wear a mask, even if you’re outside,” he said in a speech on the North Lawn at the White House, reported CNBC.

Glatter pointed to a study published in November 2020 that found less than 10 percent of coronavirus transmissions occurred in an outdoor setting.

“In fact, the chance of spread indoors was nearly 20 times higher,” he emphasized.

“What’s important to understand is that the virus rapidly disperses in air outdoors due to wind currents, so the risk of inhaling aerosols of viral particles from people walking by or running is quite low,” Glatter said.

Even if you were to pass a person outside coughing or sneezing who has a coronavirus infection, “the risk of inhaling a large enough concentration of viral particles to cause infection is small,” he said.

U.S. health authorities announced revised mask use guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated.

According to the announced guidelines, fully vaccinated people no longer require face coverings when engaging in outdoor activities like walking, exercising, socializing, or even dining with friends at outdoor venues.

Experts say the CDC’s decision on outdoor mask use is science-based, but it’s important to understand the risk of inhaling virus particles is much higher indoors, so mask up to protect yourself and others.