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CDC Guidance: Fully Vaccinated People Don't Need Masks In Most Indoor Spaces

WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is easing indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places.

The new guidance from the CDC does not immediately change the rules for mask-wearing in Massachusetts. The state recently relaxed outdoor mask mandates, but face coverings are still required at all times in indoor public spaces and at events.

Governor Charlie Baker said the current rules will remain in place. "The Administration welcomes the new CDC guidance and will be updating Massachusetts' COVID restrictions in the near future," a spokesperson for the governor said in a statement.

The new guidance was announced Thursday at the White House. It will still call for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but could ease restrictions for reopening workplaces and schools.

The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds.

"If you've been fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask," President Joe Biden said. "Let me repeat, if you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask."

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, says the long-awaited change is thanks to millions of people getting vaccinated -- and based on the latest science about how well those shots are working.

"We have all longed for this moment -- when we can get back to some sense of normalcy," she said.

The easing guidance is likely to open the door to confusion, since there is no surefire way for businesses or others to distinguish between those fully vaccinated and those who are not. Walensky said those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors.

The City of Salem is the latest community in Massachusetts to relax its mask requirement in outdoor public places. "I think they should feel comfortable, but I do believe it's a personal decision," said Salem Health Agent David Greenbaum.

WBZ-TV found a lot of people around downtown Salem still choosing to keep those coverings on.

"How can you tell if someone is fully vaccinated," said Wesley Sueker.

"You have to wear a mask outside pretty much because you're never socially distant walking on a sidewalk," said Mike Allen.

"If I am by myself I feel comfortable taking it off," said Meghan Tetro.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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