• Devon Pique

States Handle Reopening and Mask Mandates

Mask mandates refer to the requirement to wear a mask in indoor public spaces or outdoor gatherings. A total of 26 states, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Nevada Louisiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, still have a state sponsored mask mandate.

Three states, Utah, South Carolina and Colorado, have conditional mask mandates. In Utah mask mandates have been lifted with the exception of outdoor gatherings of 50 or more people and in K-12 schools. Colorado governor, Jared Polis, extended the mask requirement through May 2, however he has relaxed mask mandates on counties at the green level. Counties at the green level no longer have a required mask mandate for some indoor settings. Some South Carolina cities have dropped the mask mandate but it is still up in others.

The rest of the 21 states have lifted this mandate: Arizona, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. This doesn’t mean that masks are not needed in some businesses. For example in Arkansas businesses still have the right to ask customers to wear masks, however the requirement isn’t implemented by the state. This lightening of a mask mandate goes against CDC recommendations that businesses should require employees to wear masks and that most people should be wearing them for their own safety.

Another factor in the reopening process is stay-at-home orders. While a vast majority of states have removed these orders, some (California, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Delaware, and Rhode Island) still have a stay-at-home recommendation. The territory of Puerto Rico has an enforced night curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and businesses are told to close by 9 p.m.

The number of businesses open vary from state to state, but many have a majority of their businesses open. These include places of worship, retail operations, personal care locations like salons, outdoor and recreation locations, restaurants, and bars. States that have most of their businesses open are Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The rest are a mix of “half open/half closed” where some businesses have been allowed to open while others haven’t. In most cases, bars and entertainment businesses are the ones most likely to be closed in these states.

The CDC still recommends that people avoid large gatherings, stay at home when possible, and maintain social distancing. They ask for those attending a gathering or going out to consider risk factors like the number of COVID-19 cases in the county, possible exposure during travel, and the duration of the event.

So, we have come closer to reopening and things are starting to operate how they did pre-COVID, however, it is important to remember the risks and follow CDC guidelines to ensure we continue on the path to beating this virus.


Speaking Plainly

  • States are beginning the reopening process however each state is handling it differently

  • Mask mandates have been removed from 21 states, lightened in three, and still enforced in 26

  • No states have a stay-at-home order any more but 6 still have a stay-at-home advisory

  • Many states have reopened a majority of their businesses but some are still a mix of opened and closed

  • Despite businesses opening and laws changing, the CDC still recommends mask usage, social distancing, and remaining home when possible.