A milestone in the fight against COVID-19 in the U.S. was reached on Thursday as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that fully vaccinated Americans can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart, indoors or outdoors except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, including local business and workplace guidance.
A person is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after two weeks of the second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing. She also cautioned that CDC guidelines can change if COVID-19 cases spike again or if variants emerge.
“I think it’s a great milestone—a great day,” President Joe Biden said at a White House press conference Thursday afternoon. Appearing maskless with Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden said, “We will rebuild our economy, reclaim our lives and get back to normal life again; we will know joy again and will smile again.”
In spite of the CDC’s easing of mask and social distancing requirements, federal rules still require that all travelers using airports, airplanes, trains, and buses wear masks. The policy is set to expire on Sept. 13.
Responding to CDC’s new guidelines, Gov. Tim Walz announced the end of Minnesota’s statewide mask requirement on face coverings for fully vaccinated Minnesotans.
“This great day is possible because vaccines have proven to be effective,” Governor Walz said. “Once you are fully vaccinated you are protected. You can confidently return to the people you love and things that you miss— all without a mask. The message is clear—get vaccinated and let’s put the pandemic behind us once and for all.”
Minnesotans who are not fully vaccinated are still strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors. Private businesses and local municipalities may still put in place face covering requirements. And Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan, along with the existing face covering guidance for schools and child care settings, remain in effect.
Also, the Minnesota Department of Health still advises Minnesotans to wear masks in medical settings and on public transportation, whether or not they are fully vaccinated, per CDC guidelines.
“This is an important day for Minnesota and the country,” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “With millions of doses administered, we are seeing that vaccines work and are effective. But you need to roll up your sleeves and get the shots to get the protection. Minnesotans who aren’t protected should continue to wear a mask and stay safe.”
Minnesotans can find vaccine appointments near them at mn.gov/vaccine.
How Minnesotans Can Get their Shot at No Cost:
- Walk-in or make an appointment through the Vaccine Connector at one of the state’s COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program locations:VaccineConnector.mn.gov. Make an appointment by using the hotline: 833-431-2053.
- Use the state’s Vaccine Locator Map to find a vaccine provider near you: mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/locations/index.jsp.
- Check for vaccine appointments using the Vaccine Finder on www.vaccines.gov. You can search for appointments by vaccine type (e.g., Pfizer).
- Contact your primary health care provider or a local pharmacy.
- Employers may also reach out with information about vaccination opportunities.