In a surprise move that could also impact travel, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that people who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors and no longer need to social distance.
CDC Says Masks No Longer Necessary For Vaccinated People
You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second COVID-19 shot (or in the case of J&J, two weeks after your first shot), which provides your body time to develop antibodies. As of today, about 35% of Americans are fully vaccinated with nearly half receiving their first dose.
Several exceptions apply:
- Crowded public places
- Grocery stores
- Immunocompromised people should still wear masks in consultation with their doctors
- Hospitals or other health care settings
The CDC announced this news during a press conference earlier today.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted:
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
How Will New CDC Mask Rule Impact Travel?
I’m just speculating here, but I believe today marks the beginning of the end of mandatory masks on airplanes. The federal mask mandate has been extended until September 13, 2021 and the CDC made clear that masks in crowded places will remain, even singling out onboard airplanes.
But even though the mandate will remain with us this summer, I predict that it will end this autumn and some airlines (though not necessarily all airlines) will begin allowing vaccinated travelers to forgo masks at airports and onboard.
Of course there is concern: the paper CDC vaccination cards are easily forged. But if vaccination numbers continue to grow and the U.S. can reach herd immunity status even with the anti-vaxxer holdouts, then masks can go back to being optional, which should create a welcome relief to gate agents and flight attendants tasked with enforcing the federal mask mandate.
I expect hotels to make masks optional even sooner than airlines. Already, mask enforcement seems to be hit or miss.
I’m ready for the mask mandate to end on airplanes because I don’t think young children should have to wear masks. That said, the airline mask mandate will remain in place and even when it is lifted, I plan to continue to wear masks during cold season when traveling. It was lovely not to have a single cold this year…
If you’re on the fence about whether to get vaccinated, please read my thoughts here.
> Read More: My COVID-19 Vaccination Was Not Virtue Signaling