Was It Ever Necessary to Wear Masks Outdoors?


Some health experts are increasingly calling for mask restrictions to be eased for outdoor activities.

“Requiring everybody walking down the street to wear one is probably not needed,” Jha said.

A review paper published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that less than 10 percent of transmission occurs outdoors and the odds of spreading the virus indoors were 19 times higher.

However, experts at Northwestern University argue keeping masks on when you're outside — even after you're vaccinated — is not only a "social courtesy,” but also helps "model the behavior" for children, who can't yet get the shot.

According to current CDC guidance, “masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with people who live in your household.”

Health experts hope the CDC will more clearly outline high-risk situations when masks are truly needed. 

“I think those mass mandates in outdoor spaces should probably be the first to go,” she said. “We really need to focus on places we know are at high risk for a transmission like large gatherings and closed spaces with poor ventilation.”

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