Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday it is “reasonable and understandable” for stores to retain mask rules, despite relaxed federal guidance, because it is not clear who received the COVID-19 shots.
Dr. Fauci said businesses are reporting they have no way to determine vaccination status — vaccine IDs or “passports” are controversial — and are making their own decisions about how to protect employees and customers.
“I think that’s where the confusion arises,” Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “[Some customers] might be infected and might have a risk of infecting someone else. And under those circumstances, it’s perfectly reasonable and understandable for the owner of the establishment to say, ‘You know, we’re going to keep the mandate up.’”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stunned the country Thursday by revising its guidance to say fully vaccinated persons do not need a mask outdoors or indoors in most settings. The update came with little warning and wasn’t pegged to future goals or metrics in wrangling the pandemic.
The Biden administration in recent days has offered little guidance for individuals trying to navigate the new landscape except to say they should get vaccinated so they don’t get sick.
A top retail union said the change forced its frontline workers to be the vaccine “police.” It also caused a divide among stores, with national retailers such as Target and Walmart dropping their rules in the wake of the guidance while other stores maintain a patchwork of rules.
A person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine or a second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna versions.
Dr. Fauci said the CDC’s change guided his own behavior.
“I am now much more comfortable in people seeing me indoors without a mask,” he told ABC.
Before the CDC change, he said, “I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals.”
He said children under 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine should still wear masks indoors as per CDC guidance.