MILWAUKEE - U.S. health officials say fully vaccinated Americans don't need to wear masks outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers and unvaccinated people can drop face coverings in some cases, too. The change comes as nearly one-third of Wisconsin residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.
Previously the CDC had been advising that people should wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of each other, but now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated, the CDC says it’s safe to walk down the sidewalk and pass by someone without having to mask up.
It’s another small step on the path to normalcy.
The CDC announced Tuesday, April 27 it’s now safe for people to go without face coverings outside due to minimal risk of transmission of the virus, but the approved outdoor activities depend on a person's vaccination status. Unvaccinated people should continue to mask up, the CDC says, around other unvaccinated people, as well as at restaurants while those who are vaccinated can go mask-less while dining and at small gatherings.
Sophia Hey called the change a big relief. She's gotten her shots and was dreading having to wear a mask in the summer heat.
"They’re helpful, but also, it’s a lot. It’s a lot sometimes," she said.
President Joe Biden said he hopes the updated guidelines incentivize those who are hesitant to roll up their sleeves.
"Go get the shot," said President Biden. "It’s never been easier. The bottom line is clear. If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things safely."
However, the recommendations are just that, recommendations. For those in Milwaukee, the city's outdoor mask ordinance still requires face coverings within 6 feet of others regardless of vaccination. Local officials said Tuesday they're moving quickly to discuss revising the order.
"We literally are going to be pow-wowing later today with my office, the commissioner, her health department staff and the interested alders," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
And vaccine or not, both the CDC and Milwaukee Health Department say residents will continue to have to mask up at crowded outdoor events as well as inside public spaces.
The Milwaukee health commissioner said crowded outdoor events include beer gardens, concerts and Brewers games, where people will still be required to mask up.