ORLANDO, Fla. — President Joe Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated, calling it a “patriotic duty,” after CDC officials announced that fully vaccinated people can safely participate in outdoor activities without wearing masks.
“The CDC is able to make this announcement because our scientists are convinced by the data that the odds of getting or giving the virus to others is very, very low if you’ve both been fully vaccinated and (you’re) out in the open air,” Biden said Tuesday. “Beginning today, gathering with a group of friends in a park, going for a picnic -- as long as you are vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without a mask.”
He said the new guidelines provide Americans with “another great reason to go get vaccinated now.”
“Yes, the vaccines are about saving your life (and) the lives of the people around you, but they’re also about helping to get us ... back to closer to normal in our living,” the president said. “Getting together with friends, going to the park for a picnic without needing to mask up -- we’re back to that place now, as long as you get vaccinated.”
On Tuesday, prior to the president’s announcement, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky outlined several outdoor activities that health officials have determined are safe for unmasked individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, or dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, the sciences shows -- if you are vaccinated -- you can do so safely unmasked,” she said. “However, we continue to recommend masking in crowded outdoor settings and venues, such as packed stadiums and concerts, where there is decreased ability to maintain physical distance and where many unvaccinated people may also be present.”
The CDC also outlined new recommendations and shared several activities which health officials have deemed are safe for masked, fully vaccinated people.
Among the activities were visiting a barber or a hair salon, riding public transportation with limited occupancy and singing in an outdoor chorus.
“As we gather more and more data on the real-world efficacy of vaccines, we know that masked fully vaccinated people can safely attend worship services inside, go to an indoor restaurant or bar and even participate in an indoor exercise class,” Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 Response Team news conference.
Last month, guidance from the CDC allowed for fully vaccinated people to gather together “in small gatherings indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.” However, health officials urged all people to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing while in public.
Seminole County commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on possibly ending its mask mandate, which has been in place since June.
If commissioners vote to get rid of the mandate, it will end June 7.
Commissioners will also discuss a resolution that would encourage the use of face coverings in indoor spaces where social distancing cannot be done.
Volusia County Schools is holding a workshop Tuesday regarding its mask policy.
It will review its own policy and the state’s emergency order to see if any changes need to be made.
While no decision will be made Tuesday, the meeting paves the way for the district to eventually lift its policy if it chooses.
The CMG National Content Desk contributed to this report.
Cox Media Group