Fully vaccinated people in the US no longer need to wear a face mask whether indoors or outdoors,
following a new ruling from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The US had mandated face mask-wearing in gyms to control the spread of COVID-19.
The national public health agency also said yesterday (13 May) that those who have received both doses no longer need to stay 6ft away from other people – as recommended by the current social distancing guidance.
Unvaccinated people, however, should still continue to wear masks.
The easing will have an impact in the way health clubs and fitness studios operate, as some have implemented policies requiring face masks to be worn by all members and staff while on the premises.
The new guidance comes after CDC earlier this year
, urged gym-goers in the US to wear masks while working out at fitness centers, even during high-intensity exercise. This ruling has not been replicated in the UK or much of Europe.
The previous guidance also urged health club members to only visit gyms which practice physical distancing and had "good ventilation".
Speaking during a White House COVID-19 briefing, Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said: "If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing.
"We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy."
The CDC's announcement resulted in some states immediately lifting the requirements for wearing masks, while others took a more cautious approach.
States saying they were taking the new guidance from the CDC "under advisement" before adopting it, include Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia, as well as New York City and Washington, DC.
The policy to ease guidance on masks seemed to catch many businesses by surprise.
At least one major retailer – DIY giant Home Depot, which has around 2,300 sites across the country – has already said it had no plans to change its current rules requiring customers and workers to wear masks in its stores.