On Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its mask-wearing guidance for those who are fully vaccinated, saying it is now safe to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask,” President Joe Biden shared during a Rose Garden address announcing the new guidance, encouraging Americans to roll up their sleeves. “Get vaccinated — or wear a mask until you do.”
However, the CDC’s guidance calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but removes the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
“We have all longed for this moment — when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said at an earlier White House briefing.
The CDC and the Biden administration have faced pressure to ease restrictions on those individuals who are fully vaccinated people — those who are two weeks past their last required COVID-19 vaccine dose — in part to highlight the benefits of getting the shot.
“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.”
A Disney World spokesperson released a statement on the latest CDC guidelines.
“Today’s guidance from the CDC allowing fully vaccinated individuals to remove masks and the removal of physical distancing requirements is extremely positive news and as soon as is practical we will implement updated guidelines across our businesses,” the statement read.
Disney Cast members no longer have to get temperature screenings when entering the park and screenings of guests will end starting May 16.
Universal Orlando said in a news release, “We will review the CDC guidelines and work with local health officials to determine how we move forward in a way that is best for our guests, our team members, and our business. For now, we will continue to operate under our existing and enhanced health and safety protocols.”
SeaWorld Orlando has already announced last week that the theme park has stopped doing temperature checks, joining Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World in relaxing COVID-19 precautions.
Walensky and Biden said people who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors.
“We’ve gotten this far — please protect yourself until you get to the finish line,” Biden said, noting that most Americans under 65 are not yet fully vaccinated. He said the government was not going to enforce the mask-wearing guidance on those not yet fully vaccinated.
“We’re not going to go out and arrest people,” said Biden. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, wear your mask for your own protection and the protection of the people who also have not been vaccinated yet.”