In revising the state’s guidelines, Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, also a Democrat, said “the scientists message is clear: If you are vaccinated, you can safely do much more.”
A major union representing essential workers, however, raised questions about how the new guidance would be implemented. Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, said in a statement: “While we all share the desire to return to a mask-free normal, today’s C.D.C. guidance is confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks.”
“Millions of Americans are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated,” the statement added, “but essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local Covid safety measures. Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”
The new advice comes with caveats. Even vaccinated individuals must cover their faces and physically distance when going to doctors, hospitals or long-term care facilities like nursing homes; when traveling by bus, plane, train or other modes of public transportation, or while in transportation hubs like airports and bus stations; and when in prisons, jails or homeless shelters.
At a White House news conference on Thursday, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the C.D.C. director, warned that unexpected twists in the pandemic could require the agency to again amend the guidance.
Some fully vaccinated people have been infected with the coronavirus. Dr. Walensky said that any who develop symptoms should still use masks and get tested, she said. Asked how the new guidance might apply to businesses and schools, she said that the C.D.C. was working to rapidly issue new recommendations soon for specific settings, including for summer camps and travel.
The move could raise alarms among more cautious Americans, who may be more reluctant to engage in public activities when more people are unmasked. There is no way to know who is vaccinated and who is not, and the majority of the population is not yet fully vaccinated. Dr. Walensky added that immunocompromised people who have been fully vaccinated should consult their physicians before relinquishing a face mask.