New CDC Guidelines Say You Don’t Need to Wear a Mask When Riding Outdoors

·4 min read
Photo credit: David Jaewon Oh
Photo credit: David Jaewon Oh
  • CDC announces new guidelines that state you don’t need to wear a mask outdoors if you’re riding on your own or with members of your household, except in certain crowded settings and venues.

  • The guidelines also state that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should continue wearing a mask during indoor activities including going to the gym or to a workout class.

  • While you don’t need to wear a mask or face covering when riding outside, it’s best to still bring one with you in the case of an emergency or unplanned event.

Yearning for a ride without worrying about a mask? The time has come.

According to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you don’t need to wear a mask outdoors if you’re biking, walking, running, or hiking on your own or with members of your household, whether you’re fully vaccinated or not, except in certain crowded settings or venues.

Additionally, those who are fully vaccinated can go mask-free when attending small, outdoor gatherings, even if there are unvaccinated people in attendance, and dine at outdoor restaurants with friends from multiple households.

Previous guidance advised wearing a mask in any public setting, even outdoors, unless you were exercising solo in an area where you could maintain a significant distance from others.

In a chart ranking the safety of numerous activities, the CDC now indicates that exercising outside is among the safest activities you can do right now. Most other activities, particularly those held indoors (including going to the gym or to a workout class), should prompt mask-wearing—but that fully vaccinated people wearing masks have a much lower risk level of catching or transmitting COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.

Finally, there are other safety measures when riding that should still be kept in place as well, such as staying home when you feel sick, washing your hands often, and maintaining physical distancing when possible.

Can you leave your mask behind when you go out on a ride?

Not quite—it’s still worth making the effort to carry one with you on a ride, even if you’re fully vaccinated, in the case of an emergency or unplanned event (such as stopping for a gas station snack), or in case you find yourself in a larger gathering than you’d anticipated, including in group rides and races. Consider tucking the mask into your jersey pocket or a handlebar bag to have it handy, or wear a buff that can easily be pulled up.

“While mask requirements have been updated, it is still prudent to keep your mask on hand at all times,” Vivek Cherian, M.D., internal medicine physician affiliated with the University of Maryland Medical System, told Bicycling. “If you are running or biking, you can absolutely enjoy that mask-less, whether you’re vaccinated or not. However, it is always advisable to have it for a busy trail or having to go inside a store.”

If you’re on a group ride or at a race, Cherian added that it’s important to be mindful of the vaccination status of others around you. If not everyone is vaccinated, or you are not sure, he advised that it’s best to wear a mask because it is still a possibility that you could be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID, despite having received the vaccine.

Are gyms safe for indoor training?

Participating in an indoor, high-intensity exercise class is listed as “least safe” on the CDC’s updated guidelines for those who are unvaccinated, but safe for the fully vaccinated. However, everyone in that class should still be wearing a mask, the CDC suggests.

At this time, home workouts are still your best bet for keeping up your fitness routine and helping to ensure your own health and the health of those around you. Gyms are open in most states—with caveats. Many require masks, distancing, smaller class sizes, reserved time slots, and even a switch to outdoor training. But, before you go, it’s important to weigh the risks and know how the virus is spreading in your community. (You can find a directory of state health departments here.)

“If you have to do an indoor workout with others in the gym, make sure you’re masked up with the best filtering, best fitting mask(s) you’ve got,” Matt Ferrari Ph.D., associate professor of biology in the Eberly College of Science, and a researcher with the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State, previously said.

And, no matter where you sweat, you should remember to wash your hands regularly, especially after your workout as an extra layer of precaution.

When are you considered fully vaccinated?

You are protected two weeks after the second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

This is a developing situation. For the most up-to-date information, check resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

You Might Also Like