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Just three days after the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clarified Sunday that new mask guidance for vaccinated individuals does not grant permission for widespread removal of masks.
“We are asking people to be honest with themselves,” Walensky said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “If they are vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are safe. If they are not vaccinated and they are not wearing a mask, they are not safe. This was not permission to shed masks for everybody everywhere. This was really science driven, individual assessment of your risk.”
Asked about the confusion the CDC’s recommendation has created, Walensky maintained that “evolving science” drove the decision to update the government’s guidance.
“We were pretty clear when we lifted it that the science right now tells us that it is safe for vaccinated people to take off their masks,” the CDC director told NBC. “Right now, the data, the science shows us that it is safe for vaccinated people to take off their masks. I, as the CDC director, promised the American people I would convey that science to you when we knew it, and that’s what I did on Thursday.”
Under the CDC’s updated guidelines, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing; refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel; refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel; refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States; and refrain from testing and from quarantine following a known exposure, if asymptomatic.