Mask and distancing rules can be relaxed for vaccinated people, say ECDC

Statement is further sign that accelerated rollout could pave way for return to normality

A man wearing a face mask passes a selection in the window of a shop on Chatham Street in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A man wearing a face mask passes a selection in the window of a shop on Chatham Street in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Social distancing rules and mask requirements can be relaxed for those who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the European Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have said.

In a further sign that an accelerated roll-out could pave the way for a return to normality, the ECDC said that when fully vaccinated people meet other fully vaccinated people, physical distancing and the wearing of face masks can be relaxed.

In guidelines published on Wednesday, the ECDC said the rules could be relaxed even when vaccinated people meet others yet to be receive a jab so long as there are no risk factors for severe disease or lower vaccine effectiveness in anyone present.

Vaccine passports

The reasoning is that people who have received the vaccines have a very low risk of developing severe illness, while the risk of contracting the virus from someone who has been vaccinated is also low.

As the vaccination rollout gathers pace across the bloc, the EU is working on measures to ease restrictions, including on travel, for those who have been inoculated, or recovered from the virus and are thus considered immune, through the introduction of vaccine passports.

The ECDC’s guidelines may offer additional justification for gradually relaxing measures for the ever increasing part of the population that gets the shots.

Requirements for testing and quarantine of travellers and regular testing at workplaces “can be waived or modified for fully vaccinated individuals as long as there is no or very low level circulation of immune escape variants,” the guidelines said. – Bloomberg