In a drastic shift in messaging from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. Each state will regulate its own regulations but most are happy to be able to allow vaccinated residents to go mask-less after more than a year of strict safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. What will a normal summer look like?
It may take some time for people to adjust to this sudden freedom, and many employees and people concerned for the safety of their families and themselves may choose to continue wearing a face mask in public spaces. Infectious disease experts stress that they should be treated with respect for their individual choice.
According to the CDC, masks will still be required in hospitals, long-term care facilities, prisons, homeless shelters, and while traveling by plane, bus, or train. But studies have found that the likelihood of a fully vaccinated person transmitting the virus to an unvaccinated unmasked person is very low.
People are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks past their second dose of the vaccine or two weeks past the Johnson and Johnson single dose and should remain vigilant about wearing a mask, keeping six feet apart from others, and washing hands frequently. Although nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of a vaccine, it is hoped that the promise of lifted restrictions will encourage more people to be fully vaccinated.
In many regions worldwide where COVID-19 cases are still spiking and fewer vaccines have been distributed, wearing face masks in public is still required. Even in a more normal summer, many people will continue to wear face masks to help protect themselves and others from illness and to limit exposure to allergens.
As the season for more travel arrives, it’s important to check your destination’s mask and distancing requirements. In the U.S., new CDC guidelines do not require testing before or after travel for people who are fully vaccinated unless their destination requires testing. Fully vaccinated people are also no longer required to self-quarantine but are advised to follow safety recommendations while traveling.
According to CBC news, in Canada, preliminary talks are underway to lift travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada. But due to the third wave of coronavirus infections, and a slow roll-out of vaccination, the border closure for non-essential travel will likely be extended past the May 21 closure agreement date. Air travelers returning from non-essential trips abroad will need to isolate for up to 72 hours while they wait for results from a PCR COVID-19 test.
As more people are fully vaccinated, rates of infection and hospitalization will continue to drop and there is good reason to hold out hope for a more normal summer. Canadians who have received at least one dose will be able to socialize with close family and friends outdoors and once 75 percent of the population has received one vaccine dose, more restrictions will be lifted.