Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks outdoors, except when they are in crowds, health authorities announced on Tuesday, marking another step towards a gradual return to normal in the States -United.
“If you are fully vaccinated and want to participate in a small gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, or have dinner at an outdoor restaurant (…) the science shows that it is safe to do so, without a mask, ”said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the main federal public health agency.
“On the other hand, we continue to recommend wearing the mask in busy outdoor places, such as full stadiums or concerts,” she added during a press briefing.
She justified this exception by the fact that in these situations, many unvaccinated people, and potentially at risk of developing a severe form of Covid-19, may be present.
Indoors, the health authorities also believe that for vaccinated people, participating in activities such as a choir, a religious service, going to the cinema or even to the museum, does not present a risk if they continue to wear a mask.
Finally, unvaccinated people can also walk, run or cycle with members of their household, without wearing a mask, the CDC says.
“It’s very simple: if you get vaccinated you can do more things, both indoors and outdoors,” President Joe Biden said on Tuesday, praising the “extraordinary progress” made in states. -United in recent months in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
– 95.8 million vaccinated –
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the vaccine injection (the second dose for those given as two shots).
This is the case for at least 95.8 million people in the United States, or nearly 30% of the population who have received the necessary dose (s) of one of the three vaccines authorized in the country (Pfizer / BioNtech , Moderna or Johnson & Johnson).
Health authorities have updated their recommendations based on the new announcements.
In the United States, restrictions vary from state to state, and some had strict rules in place requiring masks to be worn everywhere outside of their homes, even without anyone around. These states should now change these obligations, even if they are not absolutely required to do so.
This is for example the case of Massachusetts, where the governor announced Tuesday that he would lift the obligation to wear a mask outdoors when physical distancing is possible.
– Politicization –
Health authorities had started to recommend that all Americans, that is to say, including those who were not sick, to wear masks from the beginning of April 2020, that is to say a little over a year ago. .
Wearing a mask quickly became a highly politicized issue in the United States, where the conservatives, under the leadership of Donald Trump, saw it as an affront to their individual freedom. Progressives generally consider the mask to be also a way of showing that they take the virus seriously, and their solidarity in times of crisis.
It is now widely considered that the transmission of Covid-19 occurs predominantly by air, not only by the droplets emitted when we cough or sneeze, but also via fine particles that remain suspended in the body. air and which can be emitted simply by speaking or even breathing.
For this reason, being in a room indoors is more risky than outdoors because the air is then trapped there, especially when it is not ventilated.
Several studies have reinforced this idea, showing that the vast majority of infections occur during indoor contact with an infected person.