You can ditch your mask in most outdoor places in Massachusetts starting Friday, leading many to breathe a sigh of relief. But here’s an unexpected reason some are choosing to keep it firmly on: the chance they could be mistaken for an anti-masker.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday that fully vaccinated folks can remove their masks in certain situations outside, such as when they’re exercising, dining, or attending small gatherings with other vaccinated people.
Governor Charlie Baker announced his new rules the same day, which say you only have to mask outdoors in places you can’t socially distance from others.
People soon took to TikTok and Twitter celebrating with a breath of fresh air, but some quickly realized things could get awkward. And who wants to risk being mask-shamed?
The CDC issued new mask guidelines today. Fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear a mask outside! (Exception: large gatherings)♬ More Than A Woman - From "Saturday Night Fever" Soundtrack - Bee Gees
Some explicitly said they didn’t want to look like a Republican, drawing on how the debate over masks has often been politicized.
Im fully vaxxed and the cdc said I could go out without a mask but I’m not about to look like a republican so it looks like the mask is staying on— A to the H to the B (@aubree_9722) April 29, 2021
A more serious concern for some people was that there’s no easy way to tell if an unmasked person is actually vaccinated or not.
My problem with the new CDC outdoor guidance is that you can’t tell if a stranger isn’t wearing a mask because they’ve been vaccinated or because they’re an anti-masker. So I’m going to continue to wear my mask outside and cross the street to avoid people without masks.— ajoinportland (@ajoinportland) April 27, 2021
Baker’s rules for Massachusetts don’t distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, however, which means anyone can unmask as long as they socially distance outdoors, where experts say the risk of spreading COVID-19 is much lower.
But there’s always the fact that going mask-less now basically feels like stepping outside without pants.
anyone else struggling with relaxed CDC guidelines bc being maskless now feels same as going outside w out pants?— David Greene (@nprgreene) April 29, 2021