BOSTON — It’s the words millions of Americans have been waiting for for more than a year. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can drop the masks and social distancing inside or outside in most situations. President Joe Biden says he hopes this makes the issue clear for anyone who has not been vaccinated.
“After a year of hard work and so much sacrifice, the rule is very simple,” said President Biden. “Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.”
In the US, nearly 119 million Americans are fully vaccinated. Across Massachusetts, more than 3 million residents have been vaccinated, but don’t toss those masks out just yet.
Shortly after the CDC made its announcement, Governor Charlie Baker released a statement saying that Massachusetts’s current mask order remains in place, but he will be updating the state’s COVID restrictions in the near future. So for now, when you’re indoors, you still need to put on your mask.
Baker tweeted Friday that he will be updating the state’s reopening plans “early next week.”
The latest guidance from the CDC is if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can resume activities indoor and outdoor without wearing a mask or social distancing.
There are still exceptions. Masks are still required for traveling on buses, trains and planes and that includes airports and public transit stations. If you haven’t been vaccinated or start to show symptoms of COVID, the CDC advises those people should still wear a mask. And for kids who are under 12 and aren’t eligible to get a shot, they still need to wear a mask to avoid getting and spreading the virus.
Right after the CDC’s announcement, some had mixed feelings about the change.
“I think people should respect other people’s decision to wear the mask indoors and outdoors,” said Elina Davis of Dedham. “And if someone is not wearing a mask, other people have to respect them and the opposite. It goes the other way as well.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci says relaxing the mask rules is another step in the right direction.
“Trying to get back to a degree of normality, which people who get vaccinated deserve to have that,” said Dr. Fauci. “That’s been one of the things that’s been the concern, saying if I get vaccinated, what difference is it going to make, my life hasn’t really changed that much. Well, now your life is going to change that much.”
Fauci went on to say this might also serve as an incentive for those who haven’t been vaccinated to go get the shot.
So when might Massachusetts adopt the new guidelines? Last month when the CDC lifted the outdoor mask mandate, the state followed suit three days later. The governor is expected to give an update soon.
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