‘No masks, no social distancing’: How 14 states are responding to new CDC mask guidance

By Clarissa Barnes, MD for Becker’s Hospital Review

Most states are adjusting mask mandates and policies after the CDC updated its guidelines May 13.

Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines in most indoor settings, according to the CDC.

Some states — including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming — had already lifted mask mandates before the new CDC guidelines.

Below, Becker’s compiled differing mask mandates from 14 states that adjusted rules following the new guidance.

Note: This list is not exhaustive.


People who are fully vaccinated still must wear masks in public, both indoors and in crowded outdoor settings, until June 15, reports Mercury News.

“On June 15, California will follow the CDC guidelines,” said Mark Ghaly, MD, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “This four-week period will give Californians time to prepare for this change while we continue our relentless focus on delivering vaccines.”

Mask rules will change at the same time California plans to end its color-coded, tiered restrictions on businesses, personal gatherings and activities.


Masks are not required outdoors and will no longer be required indoors for fully vaccinated individuals beginning May 19, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said. Unvaccinated people must continue to wear masks, and face coverings still will be required for all settings such as healthcare facilities.


The state is no longer requiring fully vaccinated people to wear face masks in most situations, according to a May 17 statement from Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, reports The Chicago Tribune. Chicago Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city needs more information before changing its mask rules, with more details forthcoming May 18.

If virus cases and hospitalizations remain stable or decline, the state will fully reopen June 11.


Kentucky’s mask mandate largely will end June 11, the same day events and venues can return to 100 percent capacity, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said May 14, according to The Courier-Journal. 


Republican Gov. Larry Hogan ended the statewide mask mandate May 15 while lifting capacity limits and restrictions.

Baltimore will maintain its indoor mask mandate until 65 percent of its adult population has had at least one vaccine dose, said Letitia Dzirasa, MD, Baltimore health commissioner, according to The Washington Post.


Minnesota’s mask mandate was dropped completely May 14 for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The confusion of two sets of rules would have been “untenable and unworkable,” Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said May 13, according to the MinnPost.

New Jersey

Following the new CDC guidance, Democratic Gov. Philip Murphy said public school students will no longer have the option to learn remotely this fall, reports The New York Times.  

New Jersey is one of the only states that hasn’t revised its mask mandate since the CDC update, reports Politico.

“I don’t want to get burned. I don’t want to go back. We’re the only state in America that has not gone back once and I don’t want to start now,” Mr. Murphy said May 17. “I can’t speak for our neighbors, they’ve been great partners, but on this one we feel quite strongly.”

New York

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York will lift several mask requirements May 19, reports the Times.

“No masks, no social distancing,” Mr. Cuomo said of the policy that will apply to fully vaccinated people. Unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask, the governor said.

Masks mandates will remain for nursing homes, schools, healthcare facilities and on public transit. Businesses can still set individual policies, though the state’s health department is sticking by its recommendation to wear masks indoors when the vaccination status of nearby people isn’t known.


Pennsylvania immediately changed its mask guidance May 13 to align with CDC guidelines. The state’s mask requirement is still in place for unvaccinated individuals until at least 70 percent of Pennsylvania adults are fully vaccinated.


Virginia’s indoor mask mandate was lifted May 14. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam also said the state will ease all distancing and capacity restrictions May 28, two weeks earlier than planned.

Washington, D.C. 

Fully vaccinated residents no longer have to wear masks every time they leave their ­houses, Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser said May 17, according to The Washington Post. Individuals who have received their final vaccine dose more than two weeks ago can now exercise, socialize, shop and worship without a mask.

All residents still must wear masks on public transit, in schools, in medical offices and at hospitals.

On May 21, Washington, D.C., is also lifting capacity restrictions for most businesses, with capacity limits for private gatherings also ending the same day.

Michigan, Nevada and Washington

All three states changed mask requirements to align with CDC guidelines, with the states’ mask requirements still in place for unvaccinated individuals.

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