En español | For more than a year, governors across the country have issued orders and recommendations to their residents on the status of schools, businesses and public services in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As of July 1, most states had lifted the COVID-19 safety measures they had put in place. Now, as the delta variant spreads, cities and communities are reinstating mask mandates.
On Aug. 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. On Sept. 9, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that requires all federal executive branch employees to get the vaccine. The president also directed the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require employers with more than 100 employees to mandate the vaccine or submit to regular testing. On Nov. 4, OSHA issued the Emergency Temporary Standard. Covered employers must require employees to be fully vaccinated or submit to regular testing by Jan. 4, Some states have already adopted mandates that apply to state and health workers.
When a state is listed as fully reopened, it means that businesses no longer have to follow capacity limits or curfews. Most public and private gatherings of any size are allowed (large indoor event venues may still be subject to restrictions). Domestic travelers are free to visit the state without quarantining or providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Minimal restrictions may still apply in certain settings. For example, masks or social distancing may still be required in nursing homes.
Many states have adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on masks. The CDC updated its mask guidance July 27 to say that fully vaccinated individuals should wear a mask in public indoor spaces in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. Unvaccinated individuals should consider wearing a mask in all indoor public settings, regardless of transmission level in the area. Local governmental entities or private businesses may still have restrictions.
Here’s a look at each state’s restrictions:
• Alabama: Fully reopened. On Oct. 25, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) issued an executive order that prohibits any state executive branch agency from penalizing a business or individual not complying with President Biden’s federal vaccine mandate. She says the state plans to challenge the federal mandate in court. Last May, Ivey signed a bill into law that prohibits local governmental entities, schools and businesses from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition for admission or to receive goods or services.
• Alaska: Fully reopened. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) issued a memo requiring employees, contractors and visitors to wear a mask in indoor state facilities, unless social distancing can be maintained. In April, Dunleavy issued an order banning all executive branch departments from requiring any person to provide proof of vaccination (vaccine passports).
On Oct. 12, the Anchorage Municipal Assembly passed an emergency ordinance for an indoor mask mandate. Everyone 5 and older must wear a mask in indoor areas open to the public or in communal spaces shared with non-household members. Exceptions include people playing sports and attending religious services. Mayor Dave Bronson (R) vetoed the mandate, but the assembly overrode the veto.
• Arizona: Fully reopened. On Sept. 27, a Maricopa County superior court judge struck down a law that prohibited mask mandates in schools and limited local governments from enforcing similar COVID-19 policies. On Aug. 16, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed an order prohibiting local governments from issuing vaccine mandates. The order also requires local governments to provide earned sick leave to employees if they are exposed to COVID-19.
The Phoenix City Council requires individuals to wear a mask and practice social distancing inside city facilities, regardless of vaccination status.
• Arkansas: Fully reopened. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Sept. 28 announced that he would not renew the state’s public health emergency related to COVID-19, which had just expired. Previously, he signed a bill that bans state and local mask mandates and another that prohibits state and local agencies from requiring proof of vaccination to travel, to participate in education or to receive services (vaccine passports).
• California: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ended the stay-at-home order on June 15. The state health department has ordered all unvaccinated individuals 2 and older to wear a mask in indoor public spaces and businesses. Newsom announced that effective Sept. 20, vaccination verification or a negative COVID-19 test is required for indoor events with over 1,000 people. The same is strongly recommended, but not required, for outdoor events with over 10,000 people. On Aug. 5, the health department issued an order that requires state employees and health care workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to regular testing (once a week). The order also applies to employees who work in high-risk congregate settings, such as jails and senior residential facilities. On Aug. 11, the health department issued an order that requires school staff to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
The Los Angeles City Council on Oct. 6 voted to require proof of vaccination for people entering restaurants, gyms and other indoor settings starting Nov. 4. And the Los Angeles County health department has ordered individuals age 2 and up to wear masks in indoor public settings within its jurisdiction (including public gatherings and in public and private businesses). As of Aug. 19, the county extended the mask requirement to outdoor mega events, such as festivals and concerts. The city of Berkeley reinstated a mask mandate. Individuals over age 2 must wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Several Bay Area counties also reinstated a mask mandate in August, but those restrictions have eased in some counties that have met certain benchmarks.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that certain indoor businesses, such as restaurants and gyms, must obtain proof of full vaccination from customers and employees before allowing them to enter. Vaccination verification is also required for indoor events if crowds are larger than 1,000. The order took effect Aug. 20.
• Colorado: Fully reopened. The health department ordered hospitals to stop performing cosmetic procedures that, if delayed for up to six months, will not cause harm to life, limb or function. The order said the limitation is due to a staff shortage in hospital facilities caused by the pandemic. It’s effective Nov. 1 and expires Dec. 1. Individuals 12 and older who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask indoors in certain settings, such as health care facilities and prisons. Everyone 2 and older must wear a mask when using public transportation, regardless of vaccination status. On Aug. 30, the health board voted to pass a vaccine mandate for health care workers. Workers must be vaccinated by Oct. 31. Individuals can seek a medical or religious exemption. Beginning Sept. 20, all state government employees must either be fully vaccinated or receive COVID-19 tests twice per week.
• Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont (D) lifted most business restrictions on May 19. He extended, through Feb. 15, 2022, an order that requires unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker has mandated that individuals wear a mask in indoor public areas, regardless of their vaccination status. Masks are required in private indoor businesses and places of employment where social distancing cannot be maintained. On Sept. 10, Lamont signed an order that mandates COVID-19 vaccines for state employees. Workers were required to be vaccinated by Sept. 27. Certain employees may be eligible to forgo the vaccine and opt for weekly testing. In some circumstances, individuals with a medical condition or sincerely held religious beliefs may be exempt.
• Delaware: Fully reopened. Gov. John Carney (D) had announced that employees of the state, long-term care homes and health care facilities must show proof of vaccination by Sept. 30 or submit to weekly testing. Employees and volunteers in K-12 schools had to show proof of vaccination by Nov. 1 or submit to weekly testing. Employees and visitors to state facilities must wear a mask.
• District of Columbia: Fully reopened. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced she will lift an indoor mask mandate on Nov. 22. DC Health will offer guidance on masks. On Aug. 16, Bowser announced that health care workers had to receive one dose of the vaccine by Sept. 30. Previously, she announced city employees who work in agencies that report to her had to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 19. Employees and volunteers in K-12 schools had to be vaccinated by Nov. 1. Students 12 and older had to be vaccinated by Nov. 1 in order to participate in extracurricular sports activities. Individuals may be exempted from the vaccine mandates because of religious beliefs or medical conditions.
• Florida: Fully reopened. On Sept. 22, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo dropped a requirement stating that before public school students can return to campus, they must quarantine for at least four days after being exposed to COVID-19. On July 30, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed an order protecting the right of parents to choose whether their children wear a mask in schools. In May, the governor signed a bill that prohibits vaccine passports.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced individuals must wear a mask in county facilities, regardless of vaccination status.
• Georgia: Fully reopened. On Aug. 19, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed an order that prohibits local governments from mandating COVID-19 restrictions on private businesses, such as vaccination or mask requirements. Businesses can choose to follow local ordinances but aren’t required to. Previously, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) ordered individuals age 10 and up to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. Savannah Mayor Van R. Johnson II (D) also signed an order requiring individuals over age 10 to wear a mask when inside Savannah government buildings, hospitals and early childhood centers, among other places.
• Hawaii: Gov. David Ige (D) signed an order reinstating gathering and capacity restrictions. Indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people and outdoor social gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited, except in Hawaii County. On Oct 15., Mayor Mitch Roth signed an order opening the Big Island to organized outdoor activities of up to 50 people.
Effective Nov. 12, the 50 percent capacity limit on restaurants, bars and gyms will be lifted as long as the establishment requires proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test within 48 hours. Restaurants and bars must maintain a 6-foot distance between groups. Professional events of more than 50 people may be held, but the organizer must consult with the appropriate county agency. Previously, Ige dropped the quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated U.S. travelers. Visitors arriving in Hawaii from out of state who have been fully vaccinated for two weeks can bypass the requirements. Otherwise, visitors must either show a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of traveling or self-quarantine for 10 days.
A statewide mandate requires individuals 5 and older to wear a face mask in indoor public settings. Masks are not required outdoors. In August, Ige signed an order that mandates state employees to show proof of vaccination or undergo regular testing. In September, he signed an order extending that mandate to state contractors and visitors to state facilities.
• Idaho: Fully reopened. Individuals 2 and up must wear a mask in Boise when inside city buildings, including city hall and public libraries. On Oct. 5, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issued a ban on vaccine passports for schools and universities, but Gov. Brad Little (R) repealed the order the next day.
• Illinois: Fully reopened. On Oct. 22, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced that employees who work in licensed day care centers must get the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing. Previously, Pritzker ordered health care workers to be fully vaccinated or submit to regular testing. State employees at congregate facilities (Health Department, Veterans Affairs, prisons, etc.) are also required to be fully vaccinated unless they qualify for an exemption, such as a medical condition or religious belief. As of Aug. 30, individuals 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask in indoor public places, such as restaurants, gyms and grocery stores.
• Indiana: Fully reopened. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed a bill banning state or local governments from requiring vaccine passports.
• Iowa: Fully reopened. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation that prohibits schools and local governments from issuing a mask mandate. On Sept. 13, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that stops the Reynolds administration from enforcing that law until Sept. 27. The Reynolds administration has said it will appeal the decision if the judge extends the injunction.
• Kansas: Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced that employees and visitors must wear a mask in indoor state buildings unless social distancing can be maintained. In 2020, Kelly said that counties should devise their own plans to reopen businesses. A statewide plan to restart the economy in phases offers guidance, but counties aren’t required to follow it. The state Department of Health and Environment updated a travel mandate. Unvaccinated individuals who have attended an out-of-state gathering of 500 people or more and who didn’t wear a mask and stay socially distanced must quarantine upon return to Kansas. The length of quarantine varies depending on whether the individual has been tested. The mandate also applies to anyone who traveled on a cruise ship on or after March 15, 2020, as well as anyone who recently traveled to certain areas (such as Alaska on or after Oct. 7). Fully vaccinated people who have been asymptomatic since they traveled are not required to quarantine. The health department recommends, but doesn’t require, that individuals over age 2 wear a mask in public.
• Kentucky: Fully reopened. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) encouraged workers in state health care facilities to get vaccinated by Oct. 1. Starting then, unvaccinated workers will be tested. On Sept. 9, Beshear vetoed a pair of bills banning statewide mask mandates and overriding a mask mandate in public schools. The state legislature overturned the vetoes, and the bills have become law.
• Louisiana: Fully reopened. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) lifted a mask mandate in most settings. Masks are still required in K-12 schools, but a school can opt out if it adopts certain protocols. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced individuals 12 and up must provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for entry into indoor activities, such as dining, gyms and entertainment centers, as well as at outdoor events with more than 500 people.
• Maine: Fully reopened. Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced health workers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29.
• Maryland: Fully reopened. On Nov. 20, a mask mandate resumed in Montgomery County because of high transmission rates of COVID-19. Residents over age 2 must wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Prince George’s County extended a mask mandate until Dec. 9. Individuals over age 5 must wear a mask in indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced that the health commissioner issued a mask mandate for the city. Individuals must wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. The health department ordered state employees who work in congregate settings to be vaccinated by Sept. 1 or submit to regular testing. A similar mandate applies to nursing home and hospital employees.
• Massachusetts: Fully reopened. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced long-term care providers and home care workers are among those who must be vaccinated by Oct. 31. Exemptions are available for those with certain medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced she will keep in place an indoor mask mandate in public settings within the city of Boston. It applies to individuals older than 2, regardless of vaccination status.
• Michigan: Fully reopened.
• Minnesota: Fully reopened. Gov. Tim Walz announced state agency employees must get vaccinated or submit to regular testing. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter issued a mask mandate for all employees and visitors (regardless of vaccination status) to city-owned buildings.
• Mississippi: Fully reopened. Under the direction of Gov. Tate Reeves (R), the health department ordered individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or the date of a positive test if asymptomatic. The order applies regardless of vaccination status. The individual should quarantine at home, refuse visitors, and, if possible, use a separate bathroom from others in the house. Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $5,000, five years in prison or both.
• Missouri: Fully reopened. On Oct. 28, Gov. Mike Parson (R) issued an executive order that prohibits state executive branch agencies from compelling an individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or penalize a business for noncompliance with the federal vaccine mandate. On Sept. 29, a circuit court judge blocked Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s effort to use a class-action lawsuit to ban school mask mandates across the state.
Effective July 26, the St. Louis city and county health departments require individuals age 5 and up to wear a mask in indoor public spaces and while using public transportation.
• Montana: Fully reopened. In April, Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed an executive order prohibiting vaccine passports in Montana.
• Nebraska: Fully reopened. On Oct. 28, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed an executive order that prohibits state executive branch agencies from enforcing the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department issued a mask mandate. Regardless of vaccination status, individuals 2 and older must wear a mask in indoor public spaces unless social distancing can be maintained.
• Nevada: Fully reopened. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued a directive mandating that individuals follow CDC mask guidance. Individuals in counties with substantial or high COVID-19 transmission must wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Sisolak announced that effective Aug. 15, all state employees who aren’t fully vaccinated must submit to weekly testing. If a government workplace reaches 70 percent vaccination rate among employees, it can drop the testing protocol. On Aug. 16, Sisolak announced he’d signed a directive that allows large indoor event venues (seating capacity of 4,000 or more) to opt out of the mask requirement if all attendees are vaccinated.
• New Hampshire: Fully reopened.
• New Jersey: Fully reopened.
• New Mexico: Fully reopened. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced the health department had issued a public health order that re-implements a mask mandate. Individuals 2 and older must wear a mask in indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status. The order took effect Aug. 20 and is still in effect. The health department also issued an order that mandates vaccines in high-risk settings, such as hospitals and congregate care facilities. Those with a qualifying medical exemption, disability or sincerely held religious belief can receive an exemption. Exempt individuals must wear a mask and submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. School workers who are not fully vaccinated also must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test weekly and wear a mask.
• New York: Fully reopened. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced mask requirements for state-regulated child care, mental health and addiction facilities. Individuals 2 and up must wear a mask in those places regardless of vaccination status. On July 28, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that state employees must show proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing. The mandate was set to go into effect Sept. 6, but Hochul pushed that date to Oct. 12. On Aug. 4, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that individuals won’t be allowed to enter indoor restaurants, gyms or entertainment facilities without proof that they have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. De Blasio said enforcement will begin Sept. 13. Statewide, unvaccinated individuals must wear a mask in indoor and outdoor public spaces if a 6-foot distance between others cannot be maintained.
• North Carolina: Fully reopened. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that cabinet agency workers who aren’t vaccinated must wear a mask and submit to weekly testing. A mask mandate is in effect for the city of Raleigh. Individuals over 2 must wear a face covering when in contact with nonhousehold members in indoor public and private spaces. Cary and Knightdale counties also have mask mandates, and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles announced a mask mandate for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, effective Aug. 18.
• North Dakota: Fully reopened.
• Ohio: Fully reopened. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced he is reissuing a mask order. Regardless of vaccination status, individuals must wear a mask in indoor places accessible to the public.
• Oklahoma: Fully reopened. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed an order that prohibits state agencies from requiring a visitor to show proof of vaccination to enter public buildings. The order exempts agencies that conduct medical activities requiring patient interaction.
• Oregon: Fully reopened. Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that effective Aug. 27, she’s extending an indoor mask mandate to include outdoor spaces. Regardless of vaccination status, individuals 5 and up must wear a mask in outdoor public settings where social distancing among nonhousehold members cannot be maintained. Masks are not required for fleeting encounters, such as passing others on a trail, or at private outdoor gatherings. Masks continue to be required statewide in all indoor public spaces. Brown announced that heath care workers as well as school educators and staff must be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval.
• Pennsylvania: Fully reopened. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that state health care employees and workers in high-risk congregate care facilities must be vaccinated by Sept. 7 or undergo regular testing. Those hired after that date must be fully vaccinated. As of Aug. 12, the Philadelphia Board of Health requires individuals to wear a mask inside businesses and institutions. Businesses and institutions that require employees and patrons to be vaccinated are exempt from the mask mandate, but certain essential businesses, including grocery stores and doctor’s offices, don’t qualify for the exemption.
• Rhode Island: Fully reopened. Under the direction of Gov. Dan McKee (D), the health department ordered all health care workers to be vaccinated by Oct. 1 unless medically exempt. On Sept. 2, McKee signed an order mandating that anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 must self-quarantine. Vaccinated individuals who come into known close contact with a person diagnosed with the coronavirus must submit to testing requirements or wear a mask for 14 days. If unvaccinated, the individual must submit to quarantine and testing requirements.
• South Carolina: Fully reopened.
• South Dakota: Fully reopened. On, Oct. 27, Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed an executive order that ensures individuals who work for a state executive branch agency can get a medical or religious exemption to the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Medical exemptions require a written statement from a physician. Religious exemptions require an individual to sign a form from the Bureau of Human Resources.
• Tennessee: Fully reopened. Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed an order in April prohibiting local authorities in the 89 counties directed by the health department from issuing a mask mandate. Lee requested the remaining six counties with independent health departments not to impose a mask mandate.
• Texas: Fully reopened. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed an order prohibiting state and local government entities from issuing vaccine mandates. Abbott made an exception for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) directed city employees to wear a mask while on city premises where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
• Utah: Fully reopened. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed a law blocking employers and colleges and universities from vaccine requirements. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall ordered individuals ages 3 and up (including employees and visitors) to wear a mask when inside city facilities. City employees acting within the scope of their employment must also wear a mask when outside a city facility. The order took effect July 28 and remains in place until rescinded.
• Vermont: Fully reopened. Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that as of Sept. 15, executive branch state employees are required to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
• Virginia: Fully reopened. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) issued an order that requires all state workers to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. The mandate started Sept. 1.
• Washington: Fully reopened. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued an order that mandates vaccines for state employees, including teachers, health care providers and contractors. The order goes into effect Oct. 18 and allows an exemption for those with a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs. The health department amended an order on mask mandates. Regardless of vaccination status, individuals 5 and older must wear a mask when inside public spaces or at large outdoor events with 500 people or more. Exemptions include while training or competing in a sport or at private indoor or outdoor gatherings with fewer than 500 people.
• West Virginia: Fully reopened.
• Wisconsin: Fully reopened. Dane County’s health officer has issued a mask mandate, effective Aug. 19. Individuals ages 2 and up must wear a mask in indoor public spaces when with people outside their household. Masks are also required when using public transportation. The order lasts until Sept. 16.
• Wyoming: Fully reopened.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect new information.