It’s the light at the end of the tunnel that is the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, North Carolina is opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to anyone ages 16 and up, and that means more people than ever will be asking, “Now what can I do?”
Things you can do
The world is (sort of) your oyster.
The Centers for Disease Control put out a list of activities that you can start thinking about once you’ve gotten your shots.
- You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
- You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying 6 feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
- You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States.
- You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
- You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.
- You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
- You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
- If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
- However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
What You Should Keep Doing
For now, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:
- You should still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Take these precautions whenever you are:
- In public
- Gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one other household
- Visiting with an unvaccinated person who is at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 or who lives with a person at increased risk
- You should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
- If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others. You will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Fully vaccinated international travelers arriving in the United States are still required to get tested within 3 days of their flight (or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months) and should still get tested 3-5 days after their trip.
- You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
- You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace.
Friends and family also vaccinated?
If so, it’s safe for you to gather indoors. As long as everyone is fully vaccinated, you don’t even have to worry about masks or social distancing.
Go ahead and invite your friends over for dinner.
You still need to comply with the state’s rules about gatherings, so no big graduation or birthday parties. But you can host small ones!
Friends and family not yet vaccinated?
That’s OK! You can still meet up indoors with folks from one other household without masks or social distancing.
BUT, if anyone of them or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, it’s better safe than sorry.
Want to travel?
Good news. You don’t need to get tested before or after traveling in the United States, and you won’t have to worry about self-quarantining.
Trying to go out of the country might be a little more complicated. Make sure you know the situation at your destination before hopping on that flight.
The U.S. won’t require you to get tested before leaving the country, but your destination might require it.
When you fly back to the U.S., you will need to show a negative test result before you get on the plane.
The CDC recommends that you get tested 3 to 5 days after international travel, but you don’t need to self-quarantine once you get back to the states.
What if my friend tests positive?
If you’re around someone who has COVID-19, the CDC says you don’t need to worry about staying away from other or getting tested unless you have symptoms of COVID-19.
That said, if you’ve been exposed and you live in a group home, detention facility or another group setting, you should still stay away from other people for 14 days. You should also get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms. This is to make sure that everyone else in your home is safe.
Things you should keep doing
Yes, we know it’s a pain, but there are many situations in which you will still need to wear a mask and stay at least six feet away from others.
The CDC says make sure you’ve got your mask and you’re social distancing if you’re in public, gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one household or visiting an unvaccinated person who is at high risk or lives with people who are at high risk.
Avoid medium and large-sized gatherings.
You may be able to travel, but you still need to make sure you’re masked up on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transit.
Keep an eye on your health. If you start showing symptoms, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick, you should get tested and stay home.