The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals on May 13 to state that “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance” in most settings, subject to applicable law or workplace guidance.
The CDC’s new guidance says fully vaccinated individuals can safely forgo masks and social distancing requirements in most indoor locations. It also says fully vaccinated persons can safely refrain from quarantine if asymptomatic and routine screening requirements, if feasible. The CDC was careful to note, however, that vaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks if required by federal, state, or local rules, including workplace guidance implemented by employers.
This policy change is due to new information showing reduced risk of COVID-19 infection in vaccinated individuals and reduced risk of transmission from fully vaccinated persons to unvaccinated persons.
The CDC recommends that unvaccinated persons continue to wear masks and social distance.
CDC guidance are recommendations and are not legally binding. Businesses should continue to require masks and social distancing if federal, state, or local laws mandate or recommend them. Under the CDC guidance, however, businesses can:
We anticipate that many jurisdictions will update current requirements in light of the CDC’s new guidance, and in fact, a number already have done so. However, governors from several states quickly announced that vaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks indoors in shared spaces as they consider the new guidance from the CDC. Business should also monitor any new standards or guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on this topic. Finally, we recommend that employers train managers on how to communicate with employees about vaccine status issues.
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A. Klair Fitzpatrick