Skip to content
 

State-by-State Guide to Face Mask Requirements

Delta variant surge prompts return to indoor mandates in several states and major cities

a woman wearing a face mask goes grocery shopping

Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

En español

Seven states — Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington — require most people to wear masks in indoor public places, whether or not they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have similar orders in place.

Oregon also requires face-covering in public settings outdoors. Washington state does so for outside events attended by 500 or more people. California, Connecticut and New York have indoor mask mandates that extend only to the unvaccinated.

Many states eased or eliminated mask orders in May and June after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said fully vaccinated people — those who are at least two weeks past receiving their second Pfizer or Moderna shot or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine — can safely forgo face-covering in most public settings.

With the delta variant of the coronavirus fueling a new surge in COVID-19 cases, the federal health agency issued revised guidance July 27, recommending that vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with substantial or high rates of COVID-19 transmission. (You can check your area's risk level on the CDC's website.)

The CDC also recommends face-covering for all people, regardless of vaccination status, in health care and long-term care facilities, prisons, homeless shelters, on public transit, and in transportation hubs like airports and stations. Most states are following that guidance.

To date, 29 states that had orders broadly requiring residents to wear masks in public have lifted them. Two states that previously lifted mandates, Louisiana and Oregon, have reimposed them amid the delta spike. Eleven states have not imposed mandates at any point during the pandemic.

Several large cities and counties have reinstated local mask orders, but a number of states, including Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Montana, Tennessee and Texas, have moved via legislation or executive action to prevent local governments and school districts from doing so.

Remaining state mandates and those in cities and counties vary in detail (for example, exemptions for children range in cutoff age from 2 to 9), but broadly speaking, they require masks in indoor public spaces such as restaurants and stores. 

Generally, there are exceptions for people with disabilities or medical conditions that prevent the use of face coverings, and allowances for certain activities and situations where masking is difficult or hinders communication such as swimming, eating and drinking at a restaurant or bar, getting dental treatment, or speaking with a hearing-impaired person. Some orders exempt places of worship.

Where there are no state or local requirements, businesses and other private entities may set their own mask policies.

Here’s where each state stands on the use of face masks as of Sept. 16.


For the latest coronavirus news and advice go to AARP.org/coronavirus.


Alabama 

Alabama's mask mandate expired April 9. The state Department of Public Health recommends face-covering in public as part of its COVID-19 safety guidance. Municipal mask mandates in Birmingham and Montgomery expired in May.

Learn more: Read the Alabama health department's COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

Alaska 

Alaska's Department of Health Social Services “strongly encourages the wearing of masks in public,” but the state has not required it. Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, ended its face-covering order in May; the capital of Juneau continues to mandate masking for unvaccinated people in indoor public spaces and large crowds outdoors.

Learn more: Read the Alaska health department's mask guidance.

Arizona 

Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order March 25 lifting all state COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and barring cities and counties from enforcing mask mandates except in government buildings and on public transit. Previously, Arizona required face-covering for employees and customers of barbers and cosmetologists, and several jurisdictions, including the state's largest counties, had full mask orders in place.

Learn more: Read Ducey's order ending COVID-19  restrictions.

Arkansas 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson lifted his 8-month-old mask mandate March 31, saying the state had met targets for COVID-19 case counts set out several weeks earlier as a basis for rescinding the order. Health officials continue to recommend that Arkansans wear masks in public when unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from people outside their households. A new state law bars local governments from imposing mask mandates.

Learn more: Read the Arkansas health department's mask guidance.

California 

Face-covering is required statewide 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. Several of the state's largest jurisdictions have reinstated local indoor mask mandates covering all residents, regardless of vaccination status, including Los Angeles County, San Francisco and six surrounding Bay Area counties, and Sacramento County. Los Angeles County also requires face-covering at large outdoor events such as concerts and festivals.

Learn more: Read California's updated state face-covering guidance.

Colorado 

Gov. Jared Polis ended Colorado’s mandate May 14, saying the state is shifting from “mask-wearing requirements to mask-wearing suggestions” in most settings. Face-covering is required in residential care facilities and on public transportation, regardless of vaccination status. Boulder County mandates masking for people age 2 and up in public places indoors unless the owner or operator of a business or facility requires proof of vaccination for all entrants.

Learn more: Read the Colorado health department's updated mask guidance.

Connecticut 

Masks are required for unvaccinated people age 2 and over in indoor public places and for all people in school buildings, health care facilities, group residential settings such as nursing homes and prisons, and on public transit. The cities of New Haven and Hartford instituted indoor mask mandates covering both vaccinated and unvaccinated people after Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order allowing local governments to impose rules more stringent than the state's. 

Learn more: Read Connecticut’s current mask guidance.

Delaware 

Gov. John Carney lifted Delaware's general mask order May 21. The state continues to require face-covering in schools, state-owned buildings and settings where the CDC recommends maintaining mask rules, such as on public transit and at health care facilities. Otherwise, masking is recommended for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated Delawareans in public places. 

Learn more: Read Delaware's updated mask policy.

District of Columbia 

Masks are required in indoor public places for all people over age 2, whether vaccinated or not. Mayor Muriel Bowser dropped the District's exemption for fully vaccinated individuals in late July amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases. Face-covering is also required for all residents in schools, health care facilities and District government buildings and on public transit.

Learn more: Read the D.C. health department's mask guidance (which has not yet been updated to reflect new mandate).

Florida 

Florida recommends but has not required face coverings for the general public. Several cities and large counties, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Hillsborough (which includes Tampa), had mask requirements, but Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order May 3 that barred local governments and school systems from imposing COVID-19 restrictions, including mask rules.

Learn more: Read Florida’s order barring local mask mandates.

Georgia 

The governor's office and the state Department of Public Health recommend masking in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Brian Kemp sought last summer to bar local mask mandates but eased his order in August 2020 to allow cities and counties to impose limited face-covering rules. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced July 28 that the city is reinstating mask requirements for all people in public settings indoors.

Learn more: Read the Georgia Department of Public Health's COVID-19 guidance.

Hawaii 

Gov. David Ige lifted the state's outdoor mask mandate May 25. Hawaii's amended mask directive still 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.

Learn more: Read Hawaii's amended face-covering order.

Idaho 

Idaho's latest "Stay Healthy Guidelines," dated May 11, recommend that employers determine how masks and other protective gear “may be reqiured" in their places of business. Boise, Idaho's capital and largest city, dropped its mask mandate in May, as did several other juristictions. Gov. Brad Little signed an executive order May 28 restoring local governments' authority to make their own mask rules, reversing a move by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin to strip such local control in an order she issued while Little was at a conference out of state. 

Learn more: Read Idaho's updated COVID-19 health guidelines.

Illinois 

Starting Aug. 30, masks are required in indoor public settings for people over age 2, regardless of vaccination status, except when they are actively eating or drinking in bars and restaurants or at workplaces where they can consistently maintain 6 feet of distance from others. Previously, the state's mask mandate only applied to people who have not been inoculated against COVID-19.

Learn more: Read Illinois' expanded face-covering order.

Indiana 

The state's 8-month-old mask mandate became a "mask advisory" April 6. Hoosiers age 8 and up are encouraged to wear masks in all indoor public settings and outdoors when they cannot maintain 6 feet of distance from others. Face-covering remains mandatory in state buildings, K-12 schools and at COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites. Local mask orders in Indianapolis and surrounding Marion County expired June 7.

Learn more: Read Gov. Eric Holcomb's executive order relaxing mask rules.

Iowa 

Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted the state’s mask mandate Feb. 7, issuing a new emergency order that drops rules on face-covering and social distancing in favor of encouraging “reasonable public health measures” to reduce COVID-19 transmission in public places and private gatherings. Reynolds signed legislation May 20 restricting schools' and local governments' authority to require masks. Iowa City issued a mask mandate covering public places citywide Aug. 19, but the governor's office said the order is illegal and unenforceable.

Learn more: Read Iowa's COVID-19 prevention guidance.

Kansas 

Kansas lawmakers revoked the state's mask requirement April 1, hours after Gov. Laura Kelly issued an executive order intended to extend it, under a state law passed the previous month that gave a panel of top legislators authority to overturn the governor's emergency orders. An indoor mask mandate is in place in Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City, Kansas, through at least Nov. 18.

Learn more: Read the Kansas health department's mask guidance.

Kentucky 

Kentucky's general mask mandate ended June 11 along with the state's remaining COVID-19 health restrictions. Masks are still required for people over age 5 in certain settings, including schools and child-care centers, medical and long-term care facilities, prisons, homeless shelters, and on public transit.

Learn more: Read a statement from Gov. Andy Beshear's office on lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

Back to the top

Statue of chef in New Orleans wearing a face mask holding a sign that says "stop the spread-wear a mask"

Sophia Germer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A restaurant sign reminds people to wear a mask in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Louisiana 

Face-covering is required in indoor public places for all people age 5 and older, regardless of vaccination status. Gov. John Bel Edwards cited Louisiana's "insufficient vaccination rate" and rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in reinstating the state mask order three months after it was lifted. The mandate will be in effect until at least Sept. 1.

Learn more: Read Louisiana's new mask mandate.

Maine 

As of May 24, "Maine is no longer requiring masks in most settings," according to the state's face-covering FAQs. People ages 5 and older still must mask up indoors at schools and child-care facilities under Gov. Janet Mills' latest face-covering order. The state continues to recommend masking for people who are not yet fully vaccinated.  

Learn more: Read Maine's mask FAQs.

Maryland 

Gov. Larry Hogan ended Maryland's statewide mask mandate along with all other COVID-19 emergency orders July 1. Masking remains the rule on public transportation and in transit hubs, per a federal mandate. The city of Baltimore and Montgomery and Prince George's counties outside Washington, D.C., have reimposed local orders requiring most people, vaccinated or not, to wear face coverings in indoor public settings. 

Learn more: Read a statement and FAQs from the governor's office on ending Maryland's emergency orders.

Massachusetts 

The state's general face-covering order was lifted May 29. Masks are still required for people age 5 and older in some settings, including K-12 schools, health care and long-term care facilities, emergency shelters, prisons and on public transportation. Boston has imposed a citywide mask mandate covering all people over age 2 in indoor public places except when eating or drinking. Springfield, the state's third-largest city, requires face-covering in indoor public settings and at outdoor gatherings where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Learn more: Read Massachusetts' updated guidance on face-covering.

Michigan 

Michigan's mask mandate ended June 22 along with all COVID-related capacity limits on gatherings. The state had already lifted mask orders for fully vaccinated Michiganders in indoor public places and for all people outdoors. Face-covering will still be required to "protect vulnerable populations" in long-term care facilities, prisons and housing for farm workers. 

Learn more: Read Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's June 17 announcement on rescinding COVID restrictions.

Minnesota 

Gov. Tim Walz ended the state’s mask mandate May 14, moving up his timetable in response to the CDC guidelines. He had previously announced plans to lift the order July 1 if at least 70 percent of Minnesota’s 16-and-older population was vaccinated. Masks are still required in schools and child care settings. Minneapolis and St. Paul lifted municipal indoor mask orders June 1 and 2, respectively.

Learn more: Read the governor’s announcement on lifting the mask order.

Mississippi 

Gov. Tate Reeves lifted Mississippi’s statewide mask requirement on Sept. 30, about two months after it was imposed. He subsequently issued a new order mandating masks in indoor public settings in counties with high COVID-19 case rates. That directive, which eventually covered most of the state, expired March 3. Face-covering is still required at K-12 schools.

Learn more: Read Mississippi’s mask order repeal.

Missouri 

The state Department of Health and Senior Services recommends that all people age 2 and older mask up in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The city and county of St. Louis reimposed a local mask mandate July 26 covering all people age 5 and over, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public places. A similar order took effect in Kansas City Aug. 2.

Learn more: Read the Missouri health department's COVID-19 prevention guidance.

Montana 

Gov. Greg Gianforte rescinded the state’s mask mandate Feb. 12. The previous order, issued by then-Gov. Steve Bullock in July, directed Montanans age 5 and up to wear masks in indoor public spaces and at outdoor gatherings where social distancing could not be maintained. Gianforte signed legislation in May invalidating local mask mandates, effectively ending face-covering orders in Gallatin, Missoula and other counties.

Learn more: Read a statement from the governor’s office on lifting the mask mandate.

Nebraska 

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends people wear face coverings in public when unable to maintain social distancing. An indoor mask mandate for the city of Lincoln and surrounding Lancaster County took effect Aug. 26.

Learn more: Read the Nebraska health department's COVID-19 protection guidance.

Nevada 

Nevadans over age 9 are required to mask up in indoor public places in counties with high or substantial rates of COVID-19 transmission, regardless of their vaccination status. As of Sept. 10, the order applies statewide, with all 17 of Nevada's counties meeting the CDC criteria for high or substantial transmission.

Learn more: Read Nevada’s mask guidance and see the mandate status for each county.

New Hampshire  

Gov. Chris Sununu allowed New Hampshire's the state's mask mandate to expire April 16, about six months after it was implemented. The state's COVID-19 guidance for businesses recommends mask use to stem transmission. Face-covering is required for all people on public transportation, per CDC orders. It is encouraged in all settings for people who are immunocompromised, and for those at high risk of infection when in crowds indoors.

Learn more: Read New Hampshire's "Universal Best Practices" document for coronavirus control.

New Jersey 

The state's general face-covering order was lifted May 28 along with a host of COVID-19 restrictions. Masking is encouraged in public places for people who are not fully vaccinated and required for all those over age 2 in schools, child-care centers, summer camps, state offices, and sites where the CDC mandates masking, such as health care facilities and on public transit. Masks are also required for unvaccinated employees in workplaces that are not open to the public.

Learn more: Read Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order lifting most COVID-19 restrictions.

New Mexico 

New Mexicans are required to wear face coverings in indoor public settings, regardless of their vaccination status, except when eating or drinking. The order applies to people age 2 and over and will be in force until at least Sept. 15. The new mandate replaces a May state health department order that required indoor masking only for individuals who were not yet fully vaccinated.   

Learn more: Read New Mexico's new mask order.

New York 

Masks are required for unvaccinated people over age 2 in public places and, in line with CDC guidance, for all people on public transit and in health care and long-term care facilities, schools, detention centers and homeless shelters. Gov. Kathy Hochul expanded the universal mask mandate Sept. 15 to include state-regulated child-care centers and group facilities for people with developmental disabilities, mental health issues or substance abuse problems. Businesses and venues may require proof of vaccination to meet mask or social distancing directives. 

Learn more: Read New York's mask regulations.

North Carolina 

Gov. Roy Cooper ended the state's general mask mandate May 14. Face-covering is still required statewide in schools, child-care facilities, children’s camps, and settings designated by the CDC for continued masking, such as hospitals and transit hubs. Where masks are required, children under age 5 are exempt. The city of Raleigh and the counties that are home to Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro and Asheville have instituted indoor mask mandates covering vaccinated as well as unvaccinated people.

Learn more: Read North Carolina's order lifting most mask requirements and its face-covering FAQs.

Back to the top


AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Join today and get instant access to discounts, programs, services, and the information you need to benefit every area of your life. 


North Dakota

Gov. Doug Burgum instituted a statewide mask requirement on Nov. 14 amid a rapid rise in the state’s COVID-19 case count. After extending the mandate in December, Burgum allowed it to lapse when it expired Jan. 18, citing a decline in case numbers. 

Learn more: Read the North Dakota Department of Health’s mask guidance.

Ohio

The state's mask mandate expired June 2 as the Ohio Department of Health lifted most other pandemic health orders. COVID-19 safety precautions remain in place in nursing homes and other group residential settings where there is heightened risk of contracting the coronavirus. Masks are required in indoor public places in Columbus, the state's capital and largest city, with the exception of state, federal and religious buildings.

Learn more: Read Gov. Mike DeWine's statement on ending COVID-19 health orders.

Oklahoma

Gov. Kevin Stitt has called on Oklahomans to wear masks in public but rejected calls for a state mandate. Local mask mandates in the state's largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, ended April 30 and May 1, respectively.

Learn more: Read the Oklahoma health department's COVID-19 guidance.

Oregon

As of Aug. 27, Oregonians age 5 and over are required to mask up in most public spaces, indoors and out, whether or not they are vaccinated. Gov. Kate Brown expanded the state's face-covering mandate two weeks after issuing an indoor mask order, citing record-high COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the delta surge. The latest order requires people to wear masks in public settings outdoors when unable to maintain physical distancing.

Learn more: Watch Brown's video announcement of the expanded mask rules.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's mask mandate was rescinded June 28. Face-covering is required in health care facilities, group residential settings such as long-term care facilities, prisons and homeless shelters, and on public transit, as directed by the CDC. The city of Philadelphia implemented a local mask order Aug. 12, mandating face-covering at indoor businesses and institutions unless the establishment requires vaccination for all employees and patrons. 

Learn more: Read the Pennsylvania health department's mask FAQs.

Puerto Rico

Masks are required in public places indoors, regardless of vaccination status, by order of the territorial Department of Health, to which Gov. Pedro Pierluisi ceded authority for establishing COVID-19 protocols in early July. Children under age 2 are exempt. The order took effect July 28, less than a month after the governor had lifted the mask rule for fully vaccinated individuals. 

Learn more: Read the Puerto Rico health department's COVID-19 prevention page (Spanish).

Rhode Island

Gov. Dan McKee terminated the state's mask mandate along with several other COVID-19 health orders in a July 6 executive order. The Rhode Island Department of Health continues to recommend face-covering for people who are not fully vaccinated when indoors with people from outside their household and outdoors in crowded settings.

Learn more: Read the Rhode Island health department's mask guidance.

South Carolina

Gov. Henry McMaster has encouraged unvaccinated South Carolinians to mask up but did not impose a statewide mandate and issued an executive order May 11 invalidating existing local face-covering rules in several jurisdictions. Columbia, the state's capital and second-largest city, and surrounding Richland County have adopted new mandates that require masking in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Columbia's order also covers outdoor settings where social distancing is "impractical or impossible."

Learn more: Read the South Carolina health department's mask guidance.

South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Health recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission."

Learn more: Read the state health department's COVID-19 information page.

Tennessee

Gov. Bill Lee did not impose a statewide mandate and in late April issued an executive order barring local mask orders in the 89 counties in which public health policies are directed by the state. Shelby County, home to Memphis and one of six Tennessee counties with an independent health department, has an indoor mask mandate in effect through at least Sept. 30.

Learn more: Read the Tennessee health department's mask guidance.

Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the state's 8-month-old mask mandate March 10. His new directive says Texans are "strongly encouraged" to wear masks in public but it bars local governments from enforcing their own face-covering mandates.

Learn more: Read Texas’ mask order repeal.

Utah

Utah's 5-month-old order requiring masks in most public settings ended April 10 under state legislation that phases out various COVID-19 public health restrictions. Face-covering requirements in state government buildings and K-12 schools were lifted in May and June, respectively.

Learn more: Read Utah's state law curbing mask mandates and other pandemic emergency orders.

Vermont

Gov. Phil Scott lifted Vermont's mask mandate and all other COVID-19 restrictions June 15 as the state crossed a threshold of 80 percent of eligible residents receiving at least one vaccine dose. Masks are required for all people, fully vaccinated or not, on public transportation and in health care and long-term care facilities.

Learn more: Read the Vermont Department of Health's mask guide.

Back to the top

Man and woman in Arlington, Virginia walk past a mural that says It Will Get Better while wearing a mask.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Shoppers are required to wear face masks in Arlington, Virginia.

Virginia

Gov. Ralph Northam's order ending statewide COVID-19 restrictions took effect May 28, two weeks after he effectively lifted Virginia's universal mask mandate to align with the CDC guidance. Employees at retail stores, restaurants, gyms and other businesses directly serving customers are still required to wear masks; patrons are encouraged to do so. Face-covering also remains the rule in schools.

Learn more: Read Virginia's latest mask order.

Washington

The state's indoor mask requirement was extended to fully vaccinated people Aug. 23. Gov. Jay Inslee had lifted mask rules for inoculated individuals in mid-May but retained a mandate for unvaccinated residents. The face-covering order applies to people age 5 and over in indoor public spaces, with narrow exceptions for certain situations where people are working indoors alone or in areas not generally accessible to the public. Starting Sept. 13, the order also applies to outdoor events attended by 500 or more people.

Learn more: Read the state Department of Health's updated mask order.

West Virginia

Gov. Jim Justice signed an executive order June 20 revoking the state's 11-month-old mask mandate. In its final weeks the directive had covered unvaccinated people age 9 and up in indoor public spaces. Face-covering is still required in certain settings per CDC guidelines, including medical facilities and transportation hubs, and West Virginia businesses and school systems may require people to mask up. 

Learn more: Read West Virginia's current and past face-covering orders.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers' mask mandate March 31. In a 4-3 vote on a case brought by Republican state legislators, the court ruled that Evers, a Democrat, overstepped his authority by repeatedly extending pandemic-related emergency orders without lawmakers’ approval. The governor had renewed the mask order several times since issuing it in August. Dane County, which includes Madison, requires people age 2 and up to wear a mask in "any enclosed building" where people outside their own household are present.

Learn more: Read the Wisconsin health department's mask guidance.

Wyoming

Gov. Mark Gordon rescinded the state's 3-month-old mask mandate March 16. The state health department continues to recommend mask use in public places "when common-sense physical distancing cannot be maintained." 

Learn more: Read Wyoming's latest public health order.

Back to the top

Join the Discussion

0 %{widget}% | Add Yours

You must be logged in to leave a comment.