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What The New CDC Outdoor Mask Rules Mean For NYC

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

What The New CDC Outdoor Mask Rules Mean For NYC

You’ve probably heard by now that the CDC issued new rules saying that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors.

Of course, there are a few stipulations — that masks should still be worn in crowded areas or events, even if outside, and should still always be worn indoors, even if there aren’t many people around you. But, in a city that is known for its crowds, you may be wondering what exactly the new mask rules mean for NYC.

First, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo put out a statement saying that New York State would formally adopt the CDC’s new guidance, reminding that “fully vaccinated” means a full two weeks after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or the one dose of J&J. This means (as written in the press statement):

  • Fully vaccinated workers no longer need to be restricted from work following an exposure as long as they are asymptomatic
  • Fully vaccinated residents of non-healthcare congregate settings no longer need to quarantine following a known exposure
  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues
  • Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
  • Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.
  • Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
  • Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
  • Refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible (in nonhealthcare settings)

Still, NYC Mayor de Blasio made some separate commentary for New York City in particular. Though it doesn’t appear they have issued city-specific mask guidance yet, he did address the new rules in a press conference this week, saying firstly  they will have to look at the guidelines “more carefully”:

“They say, if someone’s fully vaccinated, they can approach some things differently outdoors. But there’s still caution if people are in crowded spaces and, obviously, if someone is not fully vaccinated, I think they’d need to continue to take careful precautions,” the Mayor stated. “I think it still comes back to the central point we’ve talked about for a while: we have to keep our guard up.”

Then, he turned it over to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi, who fleshed it out a bit more:

As with any federal guidelines, we have to apply them to our local situation. And one of the things that we spoke about yesterday is that in New York City it is more common to encounter a lot of people, even in an outdoor space. So, even for fully vaccinated people, although we agree with the idea that you are at much lower risk when you’re outdoors, when you are in a place that is crowded, when there are more people, when there’s less ability to distance, it remains reasonable and rational to keep your mask on in that situation. 

So, unless you live in the outer boroughs, walking down the street will probably still require you to mask-up! A park picnic with other vaccinated friends though? You should be able to enjoy mask-free.

featured image source: Shutterstock 

In other recent news: Mayor de Blasio announces NYC will ‘fully reopen’ on July 1

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