PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Medical experts in New England suggest it soon might be safe enough for states to lift mask requirements when outdoors.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, Rhode Island, tweeted Sunday that wearing masks indoors should still be required, but said outdoor infections are rare and mostly tend to happen when large groups gather in confined spaces for long periods of time, The Boston Globe reports.

“I think it’s pretty safe to be out and about walking around without a mask, especially in large parts of the country where infection numbers are under reasonable control," he said on CNN.

Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, also agreed Monday that it might be time to lift the mandates, especially in places were people can safely distance.

“Transmissions do not take place between solitary individuals going for a walk, transiently passing each other on the street, a hiking trail, or a jogging track," he said in a blog post on the New England Journal of Medicine website. “That biker who whizzes by without a mask poses no danger to us, at least from a respiratory virus perspective.”

Sax similarly stressed that indoor mask regulations should persist, at least until more people are vaccinated.

Rhode Island health officials reported three additional deaths and more than 300 additional cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. There are also about 150 people hospitalized with the virus, which has claimed 2,654 lives in the state since the pandemic started.

State health officials said more than 482,000 Rhode Islanders are at least partially vaccinated and about 333,000 of them are fully inoculated.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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