CDC says vaccinated Americans can travel again – but should still mask up

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its Covid-19 guidelines, and given the green light to Americans who’ve been vaccinated against the disease to travel. But they’ll still have to wear masks.

The new guidelines were issued on Friday, and apply to travelers moving within the US or internationally. Travelers who have received their final vaccination shot more than two weeks before their departure date will not have to show a negative test result to board an airplane or quarantine upon return, while international travelers will still have to show such a result if their destination country demands it.

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The CDC still insists that passengers wear masks and practice social distancing while traveling – a rather confusing piece of advice, given the organization stated earlier this week that vaccinated people could gather indoors with relatives over Easter without wearing a mask.

Equally confusing was CDC Director Rochelle Walensky’s statement on Friday that despite her agency’s new stance, the CDC was still “not recommending travel at this time due to the rising number of cases.”

Though the CDC’s guidelines are not mandatory, they are typically followed by government agencies and businesses.

Notably, the new guidelines did not mention whether vaccinated travelers should carry some sort of record of vaccination. As the US’ vaccine rollout continues, debate around the introduction of so-called ‘vaccine passports’ has come to the forefront. 

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Opponents of the passports consider them a violation of civil liberties, while proponents argue they are necessary to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19. The Biden administration has left it up to private companies to develop their own passport systems, but will likely regulate whatever the private sector comes up with.

More than 50 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, and the latest relaxation of guidelines comes days after a CDC study found that vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission by up to 90 percent. 

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