The U.S. Centers for Dissease Control and Prevention said most fully vaccinated Americans don't have to wear a face covering anymore in most indoor or outdoor situations, Reuters reported Friday.
The CDC, which hopes the new recommendation will encourage more Americans to get immunized, also announced Thursday fully vaccinated people won't need to physically distance in most public places.
CDC chief Rochelle Walensky said the new guidance was based on a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases, expansion of vaccines to younger people and vaccine effectiveness against new variants of the disease.
For now, face masks are still required on planes, buses, trains and other public transportation. The CDC would be updating travel guidance soon, including recommendations for schools, camps and other public settings, Walensky said.
The U.S. has 33.6 million COVID-19 cases, with 598,540 deaths and 26.6 million recoveries, according to the Worldometer.
U.S. President Joe Biden earlier shed his mask in a meeting with legislators, Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito told reporters. "We heard all about it. The president took his off too," she said, according to Channel News Asia.
Health experts said the CDC announcement was mostly good news. "The science on this is pretty clear. Vaccinated people rarely get sick and don't do much transmitting," Voice of America quoted Brown University School of Public Health Dean Ashish Jha in a tweet.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he supports the new guidance by CDC that many had been calling for.
The wearing of face coverings became a hot political issue in the U.S. with then-president Donald Trump opposing mask mandates while Biden supported them for transit hubs.