Mask mandates have been a hot button issue since the onset of COVID-19. Reported cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in different states, sparking debate and contention over the mandatory wearing of masks in areas where it is not already a policy.
Utah was one of the most recent states to implement a mask mandate following Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s reversal on the policy. The Washington Post reports that Herbert shared a video late on Nov. 8 in which he asked Utah residents to “work together to keep infections low until a vaccine is available.” In mid-December, Wyoming passed its own statewide mandate for the first time.
Perhaps making it easier for those governors and state officials to implement a mandate is recent research that shows state mask mandates actually help improve the economy because people feel safer to spend their money on consumer goods in person when everyone inside a store is wearing a face covering.
Utah’s decision has many people wondering which states do and do not have mask mandates. Per the AARP, there are currently 38 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, that require masks in some, or all, public settings.
States with mask mandates
In Alabama, a mask order took effect on July 16 and will run through Dec. 11. It asks people over the age of six—or from second grade up—to wear a mask in all indoor spaces as well as outdoor gatherings larger than 10.
AARP data shows that since July 20, all people over the age of 10 have been required to wear masks in Arkansas.
A mask mandate has been in place in California since June 18. AARP data shows this mandate was updated to include children above the age of 2 on June 29. Younger children remain exempt.
In an order which has been extended until Dec. 10, Colorado residents above the age of 10 have a mask mandate asking them to wear a mask indoors and in public spaces. Counties can opt out if they meet benchmarks for public health criteria like declining caseloads.
Exempting children over the age of 2 or otherwise in a childcare setting, a mask mandate that began April 17 requires all that cannot maintain a six-foot social distance to wear a mask in public spaces.
Everyone over the age of 12 are required to wear a mask in public. Masks are recommended but not required for children aged 2 to 12.
District of Columbia
According to data from masks4all, the District of Columbia was one of, if not the first, state or territory to enforce a mask-wearing mandate on April 3. In D.C., people are required to wear a mask in most indoor public places. The order was expanded on July 22 to include “any time they are likely to come in contact with another person” and the exemption age was lowered from 9 to 2 by the city’s mayor.
Hawaii’s COVID-19 state of emergency proclamation requires face coverings for customers “at or waiting to enter a place of business,” as well as for employees who come into contact with customers.
According to AARP, “Hoosiers age 8 and up” are required to mask up in most public places. Students in grades 3-12 and teachers are all required to wear masks while on school property.
Worried that her state’s healthcare system was being “pushed to the brink,” Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds instituted a mask mandate on Nov. 16 that requires everybody over the age of 2 to wear a face covering while indoors. Previously, Reynolds had pushed back against any kind of mandate.
Although Kansas does have a mask mandate, AARP reports that it is all but unenforced. An order asking all over the age of 5 to wear masks was issued in July, but a state law allowing counties to opt out has reduced the order’s effectiveness. As of this writing, 80 of the state’s 105 counties have opted out.
Since July 9, all Kentucky residents over the age of 5 are expected to wear a mask “in situations that represent a high risk of COVID-19 transmission,” which includes the majority of public places.
Masking up is encouraged for children aged 2 to 7, and required for all over the age of 8 in Louisiana. Parishes with less than 100 cases for every 100,000 residents are allowed to opt out of this order.
Face coverings are required in outdoor and indoor public spaces regardless of age, according to Maine’s mask mandate. On Dec. 11, Gov. Janet Mills strengthened the mandate even more, saying that people must wear masks in ALL indoor public spaces.
Everyone over the age of 5 who cannot social distance consistently are required to wear a facial covering in Maryland.
Like Maryland, anyone over the age of 5 who cannot social distance are required to wear masks in public places. This order was updated Nov. 2 from language specified that masks were required where social distancing “was not possible.”
Michigan has a mask mandate requiring those aged 5 and up to wear a mask in most public settings. The mandate was put in place Oct. 5 and renewed Oct. 29 by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services after a similar mandate from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was deemed invalid.
Children under the age of 5 are exempt from Minnesota’s mask order, but all who work in customer-centric businesses are required to wear a mask. Those who work in cubicle settings with walls above “face-height” or alone are encouraged to “keep a mask handy” for interactions with others.
Since July 15, Montana exemptions include anyone under the age of 5 or residents of counties in which there are four or fewer cases. The states’s policy requires mask-wearing in public settings or private events where social distancing is not possible.
Most people over the age of 9 are required to wear a mask in public places in Nevada.
On Nov. 19, Gov. Chris Sununu instituted a statewide mandate that requires everybody over the age of 5 to wear a mask in public spaces. That, however, does not include K-12 students.
Anyone over the age of 2 is required to wear a mask in indoor and outdoor settings. A separate state order requires construction and agricultural workers to wear masks on the job.
The mask mandate in this state is “aggressively enforced,” according to the AARP, with violators subject to a $100 fine. Retailers are required to ensure customers wear masks. This order is distinct in that it also requires people to wear masks in gyms while exercising.
Since April 17, New York residents have been required to wear masks if they are over the age of 2 and unable to social distance.
The statewide mask order in North Carolina requires those over the age of 5 in both outdoor and indoor public settings to don a face covering.
This is a state that, as of mid-November, had the worst COVID-19 rates in the entire world. As a result, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) issued a mandate on Nov. 13. It was a welcome surprise to many North Dakota doctors.
Replacing a system that enforced mask-wearing on a county-by-county basis, this state’s mask order requires those over the age of 10 to wear a mask in public spaces, indoor and outdoor, when they are unable to socially distance themselves. Businesses also must put signs on their doors, showing that masks are required to enter.
Residents of this state over the age of 5 are required to mask up in public places, including workplaces. Children between 2 and 5 are recommended to wear masks, but they are not required.
Effective July 1, Pennsylvania residents are required to cover their face in all public spaces for ages 2 and up.
This territory’s order requires everyong in public spaces to wear a mask.
Those over the age of 2 who cannot maintain social distance in public spaces are required to wear masks.
Counties with 20 or fewer cases are exempt from this state’s mask mandate, but everyone over the age of 10 is required to mask up in public. Out of the state’s 254 counties, 37 of them opted out as of Nov. 6.
The most recent state to issue a mask mandate, Utah now requires people to wear masks when leaving their homes and interacting with people they don’t live with, according to NPR.
All Vermont residents over the age of 2 are required to wear masks in public settings; outdoors, indoors, or generally wherever close contact is “unavoidable.”
Everyone in Virginia aged 10 and up must wear masks in indoor spaces with public access. Exceptions have been made for childcare facilities and schools, but employees in customer-facing positions have not been excluded.
Those aged 5 and up must wear masks in both indoor and outdoor public spaces. This mandate directs businesses to deny entrance to customers not wearing masks and to require employees to don them as well.
Outside their homes and when not actively eating or drinking, West Virginia residents aged 9 and up are required to wear masks in confined indoor spaces or when they are not able to socially distance.
Those aged 5 and up must don masks in public and enclosed spaces. This includes restaurant seating and public parks.
Just about any time anybody saunters into public, they need to be wearing a mask. According to the Casper Star-Tribune, that includes, “businesses, government buildings, medical facilities, public transit or taxi and rideshare services, as well as when entering or exiting a restaurant, bar or gym.”
States without mask mandates
There are 12 states that have yet to implement mask mandates or, in the case of Mississippi, have lifted prior mask mandates. Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee currently have no statewide mask mandates.
Even though the White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended a mask mandate for South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem has so far declined to do so.
Read more on coronavirus face coverings:
- Pandemic experts say we may live with masks for years
- Should you be wearing a face mask AND a face shield during the pandemic?
- Not all masks are effective against COVID-19: Here’s a ranking of how safe they are
- No, wearing a face mask during the pandemic will not weaken your immune system
- How face masks are affecting the deaf and hard of hearing community
- What’s the difference between an N95, an N99, and a R95 face mask?
- No, face masks don’t cause staph infections