(Photo: EPA-Yonhap News)
The top U.S. health agency has lifted mask-wearing guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The announcement Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention marked an abrupt turnaround after more than a year of urging people to cover their faces.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said, "Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing."
In an address from the White House, President Joe Biden declared a major victory in the battle against the virus that has seen more than 580,000 Americans die.
But he warned people must still be cautious.
"If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask. But if you've not been vaccinated, or if you're getting a two-shot vaccine and you only had your first shot or you haven't waited the full two weeks after your second shot, you still need to wear a mask. Look, we've gotten this far. Please protect yourself until you get to the finish line."
According to the CDC's website, masks may still be required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.
Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the U.S. still need to get tested within three days of their flight, or show
documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months.
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