The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) announcement that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can shed their masks in many settings, including indoors, no doubt came as welcome news to mask-weary workers, but employers are warned not to relax rules too quickly.
For one thing, the CDC announcement applies only to fully vaccinated people. Plus, the CDC’s announcement doesn’t change guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Nor does it change state and local regulations.
On May 13, the CDC updated its guidance to say that fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations as well as rules of local business and workplaces.
The CDC says people should still wear face coverings in healthcare facilities, on planes and other public transit, and in settings such as prisons and homeless shelters. A few days after the mask announcement, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky clarified the new guidelines don’t mean all vaccinated people should shed their masks. For example, people with compromised immune systems and other health conditions should consult their physicians.
Walensky also said people should take into account that different communities across the country have different vaccination rates and COVID-19 case rates, and those factors should be considered when deciding whether to continue wearing masks.