_New Indoor Mask Guidelines

May 13, 2021
Image of freedom, girl holding shawl to wind

Mask Free?

The CDC announced fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear a mask indoors or socially distance.
What To Know
"Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance."

The CDC's official announcement. The federal government can make recommendations, but states, cities and private businesses can create their own requirements.

How Did We Get Here?

“There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask."

Dr. Anthony Fauci on March 8, 2020, referring to people without COVID-19 symptoms. The CDC updated its guidance about a month later, saying that everyone 2+ should wear a mask – after health officials noted both the contagiousness of the virus and their concern about the ability of asymptomatic people to spread it.

"The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. The choice is yours."

President Biden after the CDC issued its new guidance. He said the safest thing for the country is for everyone to get vaccinated. The current COVID-19 vaccines available in America received emergency use authorization – reserved for the most critical health emergencies when there are "no adequate, approved, and available options." This is different from "approval" or "clearance" by the FDA. Official approval is TBD.

Why The Change:

  • The CDC said the updated guidance results from a "growing body of evidence" that shows vaccines are "highly effective" at preventing severe COVID-19 and reducing the chance of a person passing the virus to someone else.
  • Over 120 million Americans – or about 45% of the adult population – are fully vaccinated.
  • The number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are trending downward.

The Details:

Fully vaccinated people can do the following w/out a mask, per the CDC:

  • eat at bars and restaurants; go to a movie theater; visit a hair salon or barber.
  • attend a full-capacity worship service.
  • participate in an exercise class.
  • take part in a small indoor gathering with fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • go to an "uncrowded" museum or shopping center.


  • The CDC says fully vaccinated people should still mask up in cramped spaces such as buses, planes, hospitals, and prisons.
  • Health officials say people with a weakened immune system – including organ transplant survivors or those undergoing cancer treatment – should talk to their doctor about removing their masks.
  • Private businesses or state and local laws may still *legally* require masks regardless of CDC guidance.

Some of the most obvious unknowns? How long the vaccine immunity lasts, how one (a business, a friend, a government) "verifies" vaccinations, and what this guidance means for children under the age of 12 who do not have access to any COVID-19 vaccine.

Official CDC announcement

Associated Press article

CDC chart of activities and risk levels

CDC COVID Vaccine Data Tracker

by Jenna Lee,