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CDC’s new coronavirus guidelines say vaccinated people can gather without masks

Published Mar 8th, 2021 12:37PM EST
CDC guidelines
Image: Tammie Arroyo/

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As of Monday, more than 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the United States, with 18% of the country’s population having received at least one dose. President Joe Biden pledged to have 100 million doses administered by his 100th day in office, and we are now on track to hit that milestone by the end of the week. The US is now administering over 2.1 million doses a day on average, and because of that, the CDC has decided to release new guidelines for Americans who are fully vaccinated and are looking to get their lives back on track.

First and foremost, even if you have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the first and only dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should still take the same precautions in public places, like wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, and washing your hands frequently. But here’s what you can do:

  • You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
    • However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

This is the first time in nearly a year that the CDC has suggested that people can gather indoors. The only caveat is that everyone present needs to be fully vaccinated. Still, a vast majority of Americans are waiting to get the first shot, and until then, here’s what hasn’t changed from the CDC’s previous guidelines:

  • You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you are:
  • You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
  • You should still delay domestic and international travel. If you do travel, you’ll still need to follow CDC requirements and recommendations.
  • You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
  • You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.

The pandemic isn’t over — not by a long shot — but this is the first step to normalcy after a year full of uncertainty. It’s also an incredibly compelling incentive to get the vaccine as quickly as you possibly can. Every state has its own rules for the vaccine rollout, but as soon as you’re eligible to receive a dose, you’ll be one step closer to safely having all of your vaccinated friends and family members over for a social gathering. Remember those?

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.

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