The CDC eased its outdoor mask wearing guidance for vaccinated Americans this week, just more than a year after COVID-19’s official pandemic status. The wearing of masks by vaccinated people around other vaccinated people at small outdoor gatherings is now not part of the official guidance, and the same goes for individual outdoor exercise and eating outdoors at a restaurant. 

CivicScience specifically asked the Gen Pop about small outdoor gatherings and whether or not, once fully vaccinated, they would change their mask-wearing habits as a result of the CDC’s change.

As observed consistently in CivicScience data, people are making their own decisions about the pandemic, and many are remaining cautious about wearing masks outdoors, regardless of what the CDC says. 

Just over half of vaccinated adults (or those who plan to be vaccinated) surveyed said they will choose to not wear a mask when at these outdoor gatherings with other vaccinated folks, yet 28% say they will still mask up. Another 17% aren’t sure how they’ll proceed.

Again, a continued trend we’ve seen is: when it comes to COVID-19, consumers change their behavior when they personally feel ready to, not necessarily in tune with official guidelines.

Women are slightly more likely to remain masked when patio-sitting (or the like) with other vaccinated friends.

Young adults ages 18 to 24 are the least likely to say they will receive the COVID-19 vaccine, so it’s somewhat unsurprising that when rebased among those of this age who do plan to be vaccinated, they are the most likely to say they won’t wear a mask while hanging out outside with their vaccinated friends and family. Those 55 and older are the most likely to say they’ll still wear a mask even with the rolled-back guidance.

When comparing this question to the survey tracking consumer expectations for how much longer social distancing should take place, there is a clear correlation between more optimistic views and the decision to go maskless outdoors when vaccinated. The longer an individual thinks social isolation measures will need to go on, the less likely they are to remove their masks, CDC announcement aside.