President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged all eligible Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying that new guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention easing certain restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals is a great incentive for Americans to roll up their sleeves.
“The bottom line is clear: If you’re vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely, both outdoors as well as indoors,” Biden said during remarks outside the White House. “So for those who haven’t gotten their vaccination yet, especially if you’re younger, or thinking you don’t need it — this is another great reason to go get vaccinated. Now.”
Earlier Tuesday, the CDC issued new guidelines that say fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks at small outdoor gatherings or when dining outside with friends from multiple households. The CDC says unvaccinated people should still wear a mask at such gatherings.
The federal health agency stills says that even if you’ve been vaccinated, you should avoid large indoor gatherings. And for the fully vaccinated who do choose to attend a crowded outdoor event, such as a live performance, parade, or sporting event, wearing a mask is recommended.
The CDC’s announcement comes a day before the President’s first joint address to Congress since taking office — a speech that typically highlights the victories of the administration and strikes a hopeful tone about the future of the country.
During his remarks on Tuesday, the President added that with vaccines, American can return to a more normal lifestyle.
“We’re back to that place now as long as you get vaccinated. So, go get the shot. It’s never been easier. And once you’re fully vaccinated, you can go without a mask when you’re outside and away from big crowds,” he said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the announcement makes clear the benefits of vaccines and shows why all Americans should get vaccinated.
“One of the President’s priorities is ensuring people understand who are vaccinated out there, who are contemplating whether they should get vaccinated, what the benefits are,” Psaki said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
“We’re at the stage now where we have enough supply. We want to convey to people what the benefits are and these are some of the benefits,” Psaki added.
Psaki said the President will adapt his own habits to follow the new CDC guidelines.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy stressed to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday that the updated guidance for fully vaccinated people released by the CDC is a step towards normalcy, but not the last step.
“What we’re going to see as more and more people get vaccinated, is that we’re going to be able to open up, including indoors, down the line,” he told Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”
Murthy added, “But right now, given the fact that there’s still many people who are unvaccinated in the country, given that we still have many people who are being infected each day — meaning that there’s still a lot of virus in the environment — we have to still observe the practice of masking indoors, even if we’re vaccinated.”
Biden also stressed that the new guidelines do not apply to all outdoor gatherings.
“I want to be absolutely clear: if you’re in a crowd, like a stadium or at a conference or a concert, you still need to wear a mask, even if you’re outside,” Biden said
Biden also noted that the decision was made by CDC experts based on science and was not a political decision.
“The CDC is able to make this announcement because our scientists are convinced by the data that the odds of getting or giving the virus to others is very, very low if you’ve both been fully vaccinated and out in the open air,” he said.
The President thanked the American people for the work they’ve done in combating the virus and said he would outline additional steps next week outlining his plan to fight the virus through July 4 — the date he set as a goal for when Americans can hold small Independence Day gatherings.
When asked whether Tuesday’s announcement undercuts the President’s set date of July 4 as a day American can return to a more normal lifestyle, Psaki said, “The incentive is to get vaccinated so that you can enjoy the benefits of being vaccinated.”
This story has been updated with additional information.