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The University announced plans to lighten mask wearing restrictions for vaccinated students outdoors.

May 4, 2021

With 50 Percent of the Campus Vaccinated, Mask Wearing Restrictions are Lightening Up

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With half of Cornell’s on-campus students vaccinated, the University has relaxed certain distancing restrictions — allowing vaccinated students to gather in small groups without masks. 

In a Monday evening announcement, Provost Michael Kotlikoff, Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi and Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer Mary Opperman, lauded campus for reaching this milestone.

“While we are still a long way from achieving herd immunity on campus,” the email read, “We feel we can safely ease the following restrictions consistent with the latest guidance from the CDC.”

On April 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated recommendations regarding mask-wearing in response to more widespread vaccinations. These new recommendations, adopted by New York State, say that fully vaccinated individuals can dine at outdoor restaurants with people from multiple households and attend small outdoor gatherings with both vaccinated and unvaccinated people while maskless. 

Additionally, anyone can attend small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated family and friends and run, walk or bike outdoors with household members maskless.

The new University guidelines include allowing fully vaccinated individuals, who have submitted documentation of the vaccination to the University, to no longer be required to wear masks in outdoor gatherings of 10 or fewer people. Those who have yet to receive their vaccine must continue to wear masks outdoors, and all are required to wear masks indoors.

Cornell’s decision is in line with the updated CDC guidelines which require masks for all indoor activities.  

Student organizations and groups of up to 30 people are also allowed to meet under the new guidelines. However, everyone is required to wear masks in these gatherings and registration and attendance tracking is required for contact tracing purposes because groups may include both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. 

The CDC says that in groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, those who are fully vaccinated are safely able to go maskless, while Cornell mandates that in those groups all participants regardless of vaccine status must wear masks.  

The number of participants in university-sponsored events is also increasing from 10 or fewer attendees to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors depending on the venue and activity.

These new guidelines do not pertain to Commencement ceremonies, which will have their own distinct set of guidelines, according to the email. 

The University is also continuing its efforts to vaccinate the rest of the on-campus population by hosting a vaccine clinic for faculty, staff and students on Thursday, May 6 in Bartels Hall from 1 p.m. EDT to 5 p.m. EDT.