ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Could wearing masks outdoors be a thing of the past? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to announce new guidelines for wearing masks on Tuesday. While the nation awaits new federal guidelines, many New Mexicans said they are already noticing people be more relaxed with wearing masks outside.
“We’ve been walking over a year now at this park and I’ve noticed people are not wearing their masks. I think a lot of them… say because they’re fully vaccinated, they feel comfortable walking around the park that way,” one Albuquerque resident said. “As long as everybody’s vaccinated, I don’t think they need to wear a mask outdoors.”
It’s unclear at this point what the changes in guidelines will entail and if they’ll depend on a person’s vaccination status or outdoor setting like a solo hike versus a crowded ballpark. According to new findings from the University of California, San Francisco shows less than 10% of transmission happens outdoors. Data shows vaccines are also helping reduce the number of people getting sick and transmission of the virus.
Some people KRQE talked to say they’re on board with easing outdoor mask mandates. “I think masks should not be required anymore. Getting the fresh air is better than being behind a mask all day,” another Albuquerque resident said.
“I think it’s a great idea. I think the transmission rates indoors are far more dangerous and our state is doing a really good job with the vaccine. I’m vaccinated, my buddy over there is vaccinated and I would just say get vaccinated everybody,” a third Albuquerque resident said. “I can understand if you’re at a concert or something crazy like that, yeah, maybe you should wear a mask that might be a good idea. Especially if there’s alcohol involved. But yeah, I think that in most circumstances when you’re exercising or going for a hike, you’re probably going to be okay without a mask.”
Right now, the CDC’s website says, “Masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with people who live in your household. However, some areas may have mask mandates while out in public, so please check the rules in your local area (such as in your city, county, or state). Additionally, check whether any federal mask mandates apply to where you will be going.”
In New Mexico people are required to wear masks in public places, that includes when exercising indoors or outdoors. The CDC does say fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks and that’s something the New Mexico Department of Health will echo.
When asked if New Mexico will adjust its mask mandate to align with any changes the CDC may make, a spokesperson with the governor’s office said, “The New Mexico mask mandate remains in place for the protection of the health and safety of all New Mexicans – any new data or recommendations are continuously reviewed and evaluated by the state.” A spokesperson with NMDOH also said the state’s top doctors will discuss any changes in mask guidelines made by the CDC.