‘Oh, hell yes’: Late-night TV cheers CDC guidelines that vaccinated can go maskless

Jimmy Fallon, in a striped shirt, speaks to a camera
“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon speaks during the 2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
(SAG Awards / Getty Images)

Late-night TV hosts could hardly mask their excitement Thursday after the CDC recommended that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can stop wearing face masks in most settings.

Comedians Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert all addressed the new guidelines in their monologues, careful to emphasize that the no-mask ruling applies to fully vaccinated people and fully vaccinated people only.

(In California, everyone is still required to wear masks in most public settings, regardless of their immunization status, while state and local officials review the CDC’s latest recommendations.)


“Oh, hell yes,” Colbert said in response to the CDC announcement on “The Late Show.” “I’m finally going to watch ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ the way it was meant to be seen: On a plane.

“The CDC is making a huge distinction between Americans who did or did not get the shot. ... [Vaccinated people] can do everything! Everything maskless, from visit a hair salon to visit a movie theater — even participate in an indoor, high-intensity exercise class, which is amazing because I’ve never been able to do that before.”

People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks in most places, the CDC suggested. But in California, it may be a week or more before changes would be considered locally.

May 13, 2021

Some of the hosts also referred to a new chart the CDC released, breaking down safety risks for vaccinated versus unvaccinated people. In addition to the activities mentioned by Colbert, the CDC visual indicates that vaccinated people can safely drop their masks when singing in an indoor choir, eating at an indoor restaurant or bar, attending religious services at full capacity, etc.

Still in effect is the CDC order requiring masks on public transportation, including buses and trains, as well as at airports and transit stations.

“Oh man, every bar in New York City is going to feel like St. Patrick’s Day fell on Cinco de Mayo, “ Fallon joked on “The Tonight Show.” “I think things are about to get crazy. Seriously, I just got invited to an orgy at Dr. Fauci’s. Honest to God, the next time I hear ‘N-95,’ it better be in 50 years when I’m playing bingo. ...

“Everyone is excited about the news, while the adults who secretly got braces are like, ‘I thought I had more time. I’m just gonna wear the mask.’ If you are fully vaccinated, you can go back to doing the things you did before the pandemic. Well, not everything. If you’re Trump, you still can’t tweet.”


Some fear the CDC is moving too fast in lifting COVID-19 mask guidance for the vaccinated.

May 14, 2021

Unvaccinated people, however, are encouraged to continue wearing masks in nearly every scenario, except when exercising outside with members of their household or attending small, outdoor gatherings with immunized people.

“Unfortunately, there’s no way to know who’s vaccinated and who isn’t,” Kimmel remarked on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” echoing a common concern among initial reactions Thursday to the CDC’s statement.

“And the majority of the population still isn’t, which means we’ll be relying on people who aren’t responsible enough to get vaccinated to be responsible enough to wear masks, which sounds like a solid plan.”

You can find more information here on the new CDC guidelines versus what’s currently allowed in California.