The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released radical new guidelines last week for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who are fully vaccinated (which in most cases means two injections, and a waiting period of two weeks for them to take effect), you can return to a normal life as you choose

“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC stated in an official statement updated May 16.

Other exceptions to the guidance include healthcare settings, public transportation and special requirements for detention centers.

“If you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms,” the CDC recommends. Otherwise, people who are fully vaccinated don’t need to get tested or quarantined just due to being around someone who has COVID.

Although Hawkins County Mayor Jim Lee allowed the county’s mask mandate to expire in September 2020, he has continued to encourage mask wearing and social distancing, but emphasizing it more heavily after he himself tested positive for COVID019 in December.

“As this virus rages,” Lee wrote on his Facebook page in December, “my positive test is a reminder that no one is immune from COVID, that following all precautions as I have done is not a guarantee, but it is what we know to be vital to stopping the spread of the disease and so I ask everyone to wear a mask, stay home as much as possible, socially distance yourself from those not in your household.”

Lee did not respond to a request for comment on the CDC’s new guidelines.

At press time, many major retailers, including the Rogersville Wal-mart, had removed mask requirements for fully vaccinated shoppers and employees, but most smaller businesses will be making individual decisions. For example, the Liberty Market in Rogersville has removed its signing requiring masks, while The Rogersville Review has not.

People are encouraged to keep a mask handy when visiting places outside their home or workplace, in case they are still required.

People who have not been vaccinated, including young children and those with compromised immune systems, should still wear masks and maintain social distancing of 6 feet, the CDC says, and those who can should get vaccinated.

The rate of vaccination across the United States has declined since March, with an estimated 60 percent of the population having received at least one shot.