If you’re booking a trip, there are many new things you need to consider. Are the restaurants you want to dine at currently open or sitting people inside? Do you need proof of vaccination to enter your favorite store? What public sections of a hotel are open and safe for guests? Another question that didn’t exist before 2020: Does the destination I’m traveling to require mask wearing? If you’re traveling, that’s the number one question you’ll have to answer for yourself, and there are 8 states that have mask mandates. This doesn’t mean you must wear a mask the entire time. Read on.
Only 8 states have mask mandates — and it’s not always enforced indoors
Out of 50 states, only eight states — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Washington — have indoor mask mandates. To be very clear, it doesn’t mean you are required to wear the mask inside every public indoor space (such as a restaurant or boutique) because the rules are very different per destination. The rules can vary based on whether you are vaccinated or under two years old, or whether you’re going to New York City or Albany, for instance.
If you’re traveling to any of these eight states that have mask mandates, you must know the rules for the city you’re going to, because it can be different from the state regulations.
For instance, in New York City, masks are not required indoors. Businesses make the choice on whether they require customers to wear masks or not — and it doesn’t even matter what vaccination status you are. For instance, my local pet store requires anyone walking through the door to wear a mask; otherwise, you’ll be asked to leave. Just across the street, CVS doesn’t require masks, and it’s optional to wear. CVS also lifted the social distancing rule.
While California requires unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors, Los Angeles County requires everyone to wear masks indoors.
Only three of these states with mask mandates are the biggest states in America (per size, not population).
Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia also have a mask mandate. Washington DC just ordered mask mandates on July 31 (today) due to an uptick in cases, so now anyone travel to Washington DC must wear a mask indoors.
All but Hawaii, Nevada and Washington, D.C. exempt people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning they are at least two weeks past receiving their second Pfizer or Moderna shot or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
So what states have mask mandates? See below.
Here are the 8 states that have a mask mandate, as well as their rules, as of August 1, 2021
Fully vaccinated Californians can go unmasked in most public places, so be prepared to bring a mask just in case. Face-covering is required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and in their workplaces, and for all people age 2 and over in schools, health care and long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, homeless and emergency shelters, and on public transit.
If you’re going to Los Angeles, the nation’s most populous county, a local indoor mask mandate was reinstated on July 18 for all residents, regardless of vaccination status, due to an increase in spread.
Face coverings are required for unvaccinated people age 2 and over in indoor public places. Masks are required in health care facilities and on public transit.Gov.
There is no indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people, so you can go indoors without a mask.
Hawaii requires residents ages 5 and up to wear a face-covering in most indoor public settings and requires businesses to refuse admission or service to maskless patrons in most circumstances.
Masks are required for unvaccinated people in indoor public settings and outdoors when unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from others; schools and day-care centers; nursing homes, homeless shelters and prisons; health care facilities; and public transit vehicles and hubs.
While fully vaccinated people can go mask-free in other public settings, such as at Lollapalooza which took place this weekend (anyone attending had to show proof of vaccine). However, concertgoers had to wear a mask at indoor places at the festival as of July 31.
Nevada requires indoor masking for all people over age 9, regardless of vaccination status, in counties with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates. The new mandate took effect July 30 and covers 12 of Nevada’s 16 counties — including Clark County, home to Las Vegas — as well as the independent capital, Carson City.
The state health department dropped mask requirements for fully vaccinated New Mexicans on May 14. The mask mandate remains in effect for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people in public settings except when eating or drinking; exercising alone or with members of the same household, or attending a small outdoor gathering of fully vaccinated individuals.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended the state’s COVID-19 emergency June 24, but New York continues to follow the CDC guidelines on face-covering. Masks are required for unvaccinated people over age 2 in a public setting and for all people on public transit and in health care and long-term care facilities.
Businesses and venues may require proof of vaccination to meet mask or social distancing guidelines, as I stated earlier.
Unvaccinated Washingtonians age 5 and over must wear masks in indoor public settings and workplaces, and face-covering is required in schools, health care facilities, prisons and homeless shelters.
So what states have mask mandates? These are the only 8 states for now. We’ll continue to update this story as any regulations change.
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