The CDC announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people can safely stop wearing masks indoors. Kyle Faircloth, Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, is seen teaching a class at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla., in February.

The CDC announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people can safely stop wearing masks indoors. Kyle Faircloth, Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, is seen teaching a class at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla., in February.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fully vaccinated adults can safely resume activities indoors or outdoors without masks or distancing, in gatherings large or small. The announcement marks a major milestone in the effort to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

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CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the new guidance Thursday.

"You can do things you stopped doing because of the pandemic," Walensky said.

The new policy is based on recent real-world studies from Israel and the U.S. in people who've been vaccinated, she said.

In response to a question, Walensky said the federal mask requirement in public transportation remains in force for everyone, vaccinated or not – including on buses, trains, airplanes and in stations and airports.

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"For travel, we are still asking people to continue wearing their masks," Walensky said. She said the policy continues to be under review.

The updated guidance for fully vaccinated people does not apply to health care settings, which have their own separate guidance.

Unvaccinated people "remain at risk" of illness and death, Walensky said, and should remain masked and observe physical distancing.

The new indoor masking guidance follows a CDC announcement two weeks ago that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask when they're outdoors unless they're in a crowd, such as attending a live performance, sporting event or parade.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot.

NPR's Tamara Keith contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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