CDC: Vaccinated people can go outdoors without masks — except in large crowds

New guidelines give more freedom to those vaccinated, but still recommend masks for large live events, such as games or parades

On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy made a personal plea to residents of New Jersey to get fully vaccinated from COVID-19, saying the state potentially could reopen faster if more residents were fully vaccinated.

On Tuesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave a sense of what that could be.

The CDC, addressing a growing call for fully vaccinated people to face fewer restrictions, released new guidance, saying fully vaccinated people can go without masks outdoors when walking, jogging or biking — or even when dining with friends at outdoor restaurants.

More specifically, those fully vaccinated may:

  • Walk, run, hike or bike outdoors alone or with members of your household;
  • Attend a small outdoor gathering with fully vaccinated family and friends;
  • Attend a small outdoor gathering with a mix of fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people;
  • Dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households.

Someone is fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine — or the single-shot J&J vaccine.

As of noon Tuesday, 2,866,844 of what we now know are more than 9 million residents in the state have been fully vaccinated.

Murphy did not immediately respond to the report — though he did indicate Monday he was aware the CDC would move in this direction.

Murphy indicated the capacity for an outdoor gathering — which he said Monday would increase to 500 on May 10 — could go higher by Memorial Day weekend. He also said the state is prepared to relax the 6-foot distancing requirement outdoors, should the CDC move in that direction.

“Should our public health metrics continue to trend as they have been, we would hope to increase this yet again before Memorial Day — perhaps substantially,” he said. “So, everyone should look at this 500-person limit as a new floor.”

The new guidelines from the CDC still came with some restrictions. While it said unvaccinated individuals may go without masks when walking, jogging or biking outdoors with household members, officials caution that crowded outdoor settings still pose risks.

The CDC recommended that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should wear masks when attending sporting events, live performances and parades.

The recommendations come as nearly 96 million people in the U.S. — approximately 52% of those eligible — have gotten at least one shot.

Here’s what Murphy said Monday, upon loosening some restrictions and increasing some capacities:

“The only reason we are able to announce all these steps today is because of the tremendous work that millions of you are doing to help us crush the curves and end this pandemic,” he said. “Keep getting vaccinated, and, if you know someone who may be nervous, reach out to them and help them understand that our vaccines are safe and effective. Keep masking up. Keeping being smart and using common sense.

“The more you keep doing all of these above, the sooner we can look to further reopenings — and I am optimistic that time will come very soon.”