People fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer required to wear masks, social distance

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer required to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances.

“We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday, May 13.

Wallensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announced changes to COVID-19 protection practices. People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are no longer required to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances.

Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required. Federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations may still apply, the CDC stated. This also includes local business and workplace guidance.

Shortly after North Dakota and the city of Wahpeton lifted their mask mandates, Wahpeton Mayor Steve Dale reminded the public to respect a business’ choices.

“Be respectful of those businesses and their wishes,” Dale said in January. “Those businesses know how a 10-day quarantine can impact them. It’s their personal choice on how to manage masks. It’s individuals’ personal choice to wear them when not otherwise requested.”

Gov. Tim Walz, DFL-Minn, ended Minnesota’s mask mandate Friday, May 14. The state also is allowing businesses to make their own decisions about whether to require that customers and employees wear make.

"We know that masks were a critical tool in the early stage and still remain today in slowing or stopping the transmission of the coronavirus," Walz said.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, the Star Tribune reported, said she had mixed feelings about the lifted mandate.

“We are the fourth-highest state in the country for case growth,” Malcolm said.

America’s transportation industry is not expected to change its protocols anytime soon, CNN reported. The Transportation Security Administration said it will keep a mask mandate in place through September 13 on commercial flights, trains, buses, boats and in terminals.

"This doesn't include transportation," Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson said. "There's a mask order in place and it will be enforced, period."

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called Friday, May 14 for travelers to respect those who enforce the mask requirements, CNN reported.

"It is very important for travelers, commuters to recognize that those workers who are operating these systems, these vehicles — from a bus operator to a flight attendant — they are carrying out the mandates, the rules and the guidance that have been given to them," Buttigieg said.

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantining after travel. The fully vaccinated can also refrain from testing for COVID-19 before leaving the United States for international travel (unless it is required by their destination) and refrain from self-quarantining after arriving back in the United States.

“Fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings,” the CDC stated. “(They can) refrain from quarantining following a known exposure if asymptomatic (and) refrain from routine screening testing if feasible.”

As of Friday, fully vaccinated people are still advised to get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and follow travel requirements and recommendations as provided by the CDC and a health department.

“The day will come when we can take off our masks and discard them with confidence,” North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., said in January. “But (that is) only if we do what’s needed now to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.”

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