California Will Relax Mask Mandate to Align With CDC Guidelines

Federal health officials said Tuesday that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear face masks outdoors.

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California will loosen its pandemic mask mandate to align with new federal guidance saying that fully vaccinated people can gather outdoors or dine at an outdoor restaurant without face coverings.

The new guidance was issued Tuesday morning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing that for people fully vaccinated against COVID, "things are much safer for you than those who are not fully vaccinated.''

Under the new CDC guidance, people can walk, run or bike outdoors with members of their own household without a mask, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. But people who are vaccinated can also shed their masks for small outdoor gatherings and for outdoor dining with people from other households.

Masks are still urged for anyone -- vaccinated or not -- attending an indoor activity or patronizing indoor businesses, and for anyone at a crowded outdoor event, such as a concert, parade or sporting event.

California COVID-19 Vaccinations

The map tracks the number of doses administered by a recipient's county of residence according to the The California Department of Public Health.

Source: The statewide totals for doses administered reflect Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Otherwise we used data from the California Department of Public Health.
Amy O’Kruk/NBC

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state has reviewed the new guidelines, "and with science and data as our guide, we are moving to align California's guidance with these common-sense updates.''

"While more than half of Californians 16 and older are partially or fully vaccinated, many others are still not vaccinated and the threat of variants remains,'' he said. "We need to remain vigilant and continue public health prevention measures -- like wearing masks when appropriate and getting vaccinated -- but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.''


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California was the first state in the nation to issue a sweeping shutdown order in March 2020 due to the pandemic. The state has followed a color-coded, four-tier system to gradually reopen. Most counties were in the orange tier of that system at the end of April -- the second-least restrictive tier.

The state's most populous county, Los Angeles, has qualified to move in the least restrictive yellow tier.

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