Vaccinated? No need to wear your mask indoors or outdoors, Florida Surgeon General says

Fully vaccinated Floridians no longer need to wear face masks in public or avoid most social gatherings, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said in a newly issued health advisory.

Until now, Rivkees had backed requiring face coverings in Florida wherever social distancing wasn’t possible, both indoors and outdoors.

His new public health advisory, which rescinds those requirements, comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered more guidance on mask-wearing outdoors. Rivkees goes further than the CDC — giving the OK for vaccinated Floridians to go without their masks indoors too.

On Tuesday, the CDC announced updated guidelines stating Americans can shed their masks for relatively safe outdoor activities, especially if they are fully vaccinated, because the virus does not spread readily outdoors. The CDC still urges the continued use of face coverings in most indoor settings and in crowded outdoor areas.

Rivkees said he considered several factors while issuing his new public health advisory on Thursday night:

  • Nearly 9 million individuals have been vaccinated in Florida, and scientific studies show that the vaccines protect individuals from COVID-19 and diminish hospitalizations and deaths.
  • Continuing COVID-19 restrictions on individuals with no end in sight, including the long-term use of face coverings and withdrawal from social and recreational gatherings, pose a risk of adverse and unintended consequences.
  • Florida has enough COVID-19 vaccine for every eligible Floridian to be vaccinated.

The new public health advisory also expands vaccine eligibility beyond state residents to include anyone in Florida to provide goods or services for the benefit of residents and visitors of the state.

Throughout Florida’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, people who lack state-issued photo IDs or proof of residency have struggled to get the COVID vaccine after the state tried to clamp down on “vaccine tourism.” Broward County has begun an effort to create IDs for people who don’t have one. This expansion of eligibility will allow Florida’s large farmworker population to get vaccinated.

The expansion of eligibility comes as Florida lawmakers gave final approval Thursday night to a bill that would make permanent a ban on COVID-19 vaccine “passports.” The ban would prohibit businesses, schools and government agencies from requiring people to show documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccinations or recovery from the virus before gaining entry.

The Surgeon General’s new advisory also encourages the resumption of in-person state government operations and services.

Sun Sentinel health reporter Cindy Goodman can be reached at

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