CDC easing restrictions — including indoor gathering — for those fully vaccinated

In another sign that society is beginning to open, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced guidelines Monday that fully vaccinated Americans can begin to gather with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or social distancing in certain settings — including indoors.

In addition, fully vaccinated people can gather with those who are not vaccinated under certain circumstances indoors.

Simply put, vaccinated grandparents can feel comfortable gathering with their extended families in a small private setting, regardless of whether their extended families also have been vaccinated.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky stressed that all masking and social distancing should continue in public spaces, but the guidelines allow those vaccinated more freedom.

Walensky said those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine or get tested following exposure to a COVID-positive person, as long as the vaccinated person remains asymptomatic. However, Walensky said the CDC is not relaxing rules on travel.

Walensky also said the new guidelines should not be interpreted as allowing vaccinated people to live as they had before the pandemic.

“Fully vaccinated people should continue to take precautions in public like wearing masks and physical distancing,” she said.

The announcement is an effort to help reopen the country, Walensky said. But it comes at a time when society cannot let its guard down, she said.

“We believe these new recommendations are an important first step … in our efforts to resume everyday activities in our communities,” she said. “However, we remain in the midst of a serious pandemic, and still over 90% of our population is not fully vaccinated, so we are working hard to get there.

“Therefore, everyone, whether vaccinated or not, should continue to avoid medium- and large-sized gatherings, as well as non-essential travel, and, when in public spaces, should continue to wear a well-fitted mask, physically distance and follow other public health measures to protect themselves and others.”

Gov. Phil Murphy did not mention the guidelines in the opening remarks of Monday’s COVID-19 briefing.