By Melody Miller

The Centers for Disease Control just announced that fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups, paving the way for a full reopening of society.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

That represents a major shift for pandemic-weary Americans, millions of whom have lived with the restrictions for more than a year.

A growing number have complained they cannot do more even after being fully vaccinated and criticized the CDC for being overly cautious. More than 117 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, or about 35 percent of the population.

CDC officials cited a growing body of real-world evidence demonstrating the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines and noted the shots offer protection even against more contagious variants circulating in the United States. They said they also factored in the country’s declining cases, and the rarity of breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated.

Nonetheless, officials cautioned the guidelines could change again if the pandemic should worsen.