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April 27, 2021

CDC loosens mask requirements in updated guidance on wearing face coverings outdoors

The update applies to both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened its mask requirements on Tuesday as part of new guidance following further rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

People who are fully vaccinated — meaning they have received a full vaccine dose and it has been at least two weeks since their last shot — no longer have to wear masks when they are outside alone, or with members of their own household, the CDC said.

The vaccinated are also free to remove their masks when with people from outside their own households, during small outdoor gatherings or while dining outside.

However, fully vaccinated adults should continue to wear masks outdoors at large, crowded events. 

Additionally, the CDC lifted some restrictions for unvaccinated adults. 

Even those who haven't received a vaccine dose can now walk, run or bike outdoors without a mask so long as they are alone or with members of their own household, the CDC said. 

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley stated during Tuesday's coronavirus briefing that Philly officials will adhere to the CDC's updated guidelines, which he called a "small change."

"What they’re saying is if you are vaccinated, and outdoors, and within six feet of a small group of people, you don’t need to wear a mask. So it’s a relatively small change, and we will follow those recommendations," he said. 

Farley added that the city's focus was to increase the number of fully vaccinated city residents and continue to encourage mask-wearing.

"Our message for people though, is get vaccinated," Farley said. "And if you’re in a crowd of people outdoors, still wear a mask."

In Philly, 493,385 people are fully vaccinated and 247,663 residents are partially vaccinated. 

With approximately 29% of adults in the U.S. vaccinated, the updated mask guidelines will impact nearly one-third of American adults.

"If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, or dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, the science shows if you are vaccinated, you can do so safely unmasked," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on Tuesday. 

The CDC added that people should consider their own personal situation when taking the newly-loosened mask requirements into account. For example, those who live with certain high-risk individuals may want to take more precautions.

"CDC cannot provide the specific risk level for every activity in every community, so it is important to consider your own personal situation and the risk to you, your family and your community before venturing out without a mask," the agency said.

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