People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can gather together indoors safely and even can visit low-risk, unvaccinated people, according to guidelines posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday. 

The new rules ostensibly apply to long-term care employees outside of work, but there was no corresponding guidance published on how staff members should interpret the changes and meld them with ongoing visitation restrictions that remain intact in nursing homes and assisted living communities. The CDC last month said that healthcare personnel would not be required to quarantine outside of work, but no additional guidance since has been announced.

Outside of healthcare settings, people who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots now may visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing, the agency stated. They likewise may visit, indoors without masks or physical distancing, “unvaccinated people from a single household” who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease. Vaccinated individuals also may refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if they are asymptomatic, the agency said.

The new guidance comes days after CDC data showed a 90% drop in COVID-19 cases per week in nursing homes and assisted living that observers have linked to high vaccination rates in these settings. The recent fall from a peak of 30,000 cases per week in December to 3,000 per week is a turn of events that one industry advocate heralded as “astonishing.”

In addition, on Monday, Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to President Biden’s coronavirus response team, tweeted that 70% of Americans aged 75 or more years had received a first dose, and 39% had received a second shot. Among those aged 65 or more years, 60% had received a first dose and 30% had received two, he said. Six weeks ago, only 8% of people aged 65 or more years had received a vaccination, he told the New York Post on Friday.