8 states lifted mask mandates for vaccinated people following new CDC guidance, while New York, California, and others kept their mandates. Here’s how states responded.

andrew cuomo mask car
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

  • The CDC said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need a mask in most spaces, including indoors.
  • But states can ultimately decide their own rules on mask wearing.
  • Minnesota, Nevada, and others relaxed their mask rules, while others, including New York, are sticking with their current mandates.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear a mask outside or in most indoor spaces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in guidelines Thursday. But not all states immediately took the guidance on board.

States and businesses can still maintain their existing mask rules if they want – and some retailers have already said that fully vaccinated people must continue to wear masks in-store.

After the CDC issued its guidelines, eight states said they would relax mask-wearing rules. These were Minnesota, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Illinois, and Connecticut.

Other states – including New York state, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, and California – say they’re keeping their mask requirements while they review the evidence.

Some states had already got rid of mask mandates before the CDC’s guidelines, including Texas, Montana, Iowa, North Dakota, and Mississippi.

Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina have not enforced state-wide mask mandates throughout the pandemic.

Here is how states have reacted to the CDC’s new mask guidelines.

Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz said in a press conference Thursday that Minnesota’s mask mandate would be dropped completely for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people from Friday.

The confusion of two sets of rules would be “untenable and unworkable,” he said.

Private businesses and local governments could keep mask mandates in place, though, he said.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement that the city’s indoor mask requirement would stay in place while her team reviewed the data, consulted health experts, and analyzed the “unique circumstances and vaccination rates for our communities across our city.”

Jan Malcolm, health commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health, recommended that masks should be worn for those who aren’t fully vaccinated, but said dividing people into vaccinated and unvaccinated wasn’t “practically enforceable”

Kentucky

Andy Beshear
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear said in a video posted on Twitter Thursday that Kentucky would immediately follow the CDC guidance.

“You ought to go get your shot of hope if you haven’t,” Beshear said. “If you get vaccinated, the CDC says it’s safe to take that mask off.”

Nevada

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said on Twitter Thursday that Nevada would immediately follow the latest CDC recommendations.

Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown said in a video address Thursday that Oregon would follow the CDC guidance for vaccinated individuals with immediate effect.

“Some businesses may prefer to simply continue operating under the current guidance for now, rather than worrying about verifying vaccination status, and that’s fine,” Brown said.

Pennsylvania

Junior Molly Day gets her first Pfizer Biontech COVID vaccine at Ridley High School in Ridley, PA
Junior Molly Day gets her first Pfizer Biontech COVID vaccine at Ridley High School in Ridley, Pennsylvania on May, 3, 2021.

Alison Beam, acting secretary of Pennsylvania’s department of health, said in a statement Thursday that the CDC’s guidelines would automatically go into effect in the state for vaccinated Pennsylvanias.

If you’re not vaccinated, then the state’s current order requires you to wear a mask until Pennsylvania reaches 70% vaccinations in people aged 18 and over.

Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that the state would adopt the CDC guidance with immediate effect. Inslee said that individual businesses may require masks for vaccinated people, but that there was no requirement from the state.

“This is a heck of a benefit for people who have been annoyed by this mask,” Inslee said. “This is a ticket to freedom, that shot is a ticket to freedom from masks, and we hope people will avail themselves to it.”

Illinois

Gov. JB Pritzker said on Twitter Thursday that he would revise his executive orders in line with the CDC’s guidelines for vaccinated people.

“The scientists’ message is clear: if you are vaccinated, you can safely do much more,” he said.

Connecticut

Gov. Ned Lamont.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday that fully vaccinated people in Connecticut no longer needed a mask in most cases from May 19, in line with the CDC guidance. Unvaccinated people in Connecticut will still require them, though.

Lamont said that he hoped people would “do the right thing,” and that proof of vaccination would not be required.

Masks in school will be in place until the end of the school year, he said.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker’s office said in a statement to Boston.com on Thursday that it welcomed the new CDC guidance, and would be updating Massachusetts COVID-19 restrictions “in the future.”

“In the meantime, the current mask order remains in place,” the statement said.

At the moment, everyone over 5 years-old in Massachusetts must wear a face covering regardless of vaccination status in all indoor public spaces, and outside if physical distancing from non-household members is not possible.

New Jersey

The press secretary for Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement Thursday that Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Health were reviewing the new CDC guidance on mask requirements.

North Carolina

Roy Cooper
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks to supporters while joined by his wife Kristin during a primary election night party in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s press secretary said in a statement Thursday that state health officials needed to review the CDC’s recommendations before amending the state’s indoor mask mandate.

“North Carolina two weeks ago removed the outdoor mask mandate, but the indoor mask mandate remains in effect while state health officials review the specific CDC recommendations,” the statement said.

New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Thursday that the state was reviewing the updated guidance with health experts in New York and surrounding states.

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, said on Twitter Thursday that he was looking at the guidelines.

Virginia

Virginia’s mask mandate has not yet changed.

A spokesperson for Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement that Northam’s office was in the process of updating state policy to reflect the CDC’s recommendations. In the meantime, Virginia’s current guidelines remain in effect, they said.

California

Gov. Gavin Newsom said before the CDC guidance on May 12 that the state would eliminate its mask mandate on June 15, when the state plans to fully reopen.

“Only in those massively large [indoor] settings where people from around the world are convening & people are mixing in real dense spaces. Otherwise…no mandates,” he said.

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