The CDC eases rules for face masks, but not for everyone

Here's what you need to know

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just eased guidelines for face masks—seemingly a step towards progress. However, considering the new rules only apply to those who are fully vaccinated, we're not completely out of the woods just yet. 

The CDC stated that those who have received both doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are permitted to go mask-free to small outdoor gatherings, even if those in attendance are not vaccinated. It's a welcome sign of relief, considering warm weather is rolling in, and al fresco activities like outdoor dining are making a return. 

"The science shows if you are vaccinated, you can do so [dine outdoors] safely unmasked," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a virtual White House briefing. 

What are people who are fully vaccinated able to do?

According to the CDC, those who have completed the COVID-19 vaccination process are able to: 

• Visit other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or social distancing

• Visit unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household indoors who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 effects without wearing masks or social distancing

• Enjoy outdoor activities without a mask, except when large crowds are gathered

For a full list, visit the CDC

What are people who are fully vaccinated NOT able to do?

According to the CDC, those who have completed the COVID-19 vaccination process are not able to:

• Go maskless indoors

• Go maskless indoors with people who are unvaccinated and at a high risk for developing COVID-19 effects

For a full list, visit the CDC.

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"We continue to recommend masking in crowded outdoor settings and venues, such as packed stadiums and concerts," Dr. Rochelle Walensky added. 

As much as we would all like to return to a sense of normalcy, the experts claim we can only do so when the vaccine process is complete. Nearly five million Americans are opting out of the second dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC, and the growing rate is alarming healthcare professionals. Both Pfizer and Moderna are less effective with one single shot; the British Medical Journal reports that one Pfizer shot is only 52% effective and one Moderna shot is only 80% effective, per the World Health Organization. When a patient receives both doses of either vaccine, the CDC says the effectiveness rate is over 90%. 

Additionally, the decision to only stick with one dose verses the recommended two can have a larger impact: According to Dr. Carlos Malvestutto, an assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, not completing the vaccination process will put us further away from the herd immunity that is needed to beat the virus.

To learn more about what is and is not permitted during this time, visit the CDC online. If you're still waiting for your vaccine appointment to arrive, shop for the best reusable face masks

Danielle Valente

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, where she particularly enjoys covering lifestyle and entertainment news. She was previously the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. When she's not working, you can find her reading a good book and enjoying a cup of coffee. Follow her @dvwrites.