Several different US states have moved to remove their mandatory mask wearing restrictions over the past weeks. Despite being just a short way into the new year, the change in the approach to living with the virus has been felt around the world, with various countries across Europe removing their mask and other restrictions in recent weeks, with the number of states in the US making similar decisions growing on a weekly basis – moves that would have been hard to imagine this time last year.
With travelers now in the habit of packing masks like they pack any essentials, the change is bound to take some getting used to – and they shouldn’t forget that other restrictions may still apply. Here’s a look at which states have recently removed their mandatory mask policies, and why you may still want to pack a couple in your backpack.
More States Remove Mask Mandates
Love them or hate them, masks have become a fixture of travel since the pandemic first made headlines around two years ago. Needed on planes, in restaurants and more often than not in public, the face mask has become a ubiquitous symbol of pandemic travel – but its days may be numbered. A growing number of US states have moved to lift their mask mandates, with more on the way.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that his state’s indoor mask mandate was set to expire on February 15th – however, unvaccinated travelers would still be required to wear their masks when indoors. The Governor cited declining infection and hospitalization rates across the state as the reason why such a call was made – and California is far from the only state to do so.
New York’s indoor mask mandate expired on February 10th, meaning travelers to the Big Apple won’t have to scramble for their face masks when entering establishments, and Nevada lifted their universal mask mandate on the same day. A day later, Rhode Island also saw it’s mask or proof of vaccination requirements for some indoor public settings lifted, as did Delaware, creating more mask-free destinations for domestic travelers.
Whilst Washington’s universal outdoor mask mandate is set to expire next week on February 18th, their indoor mandate is set to remain for the time being. Connecticut is set to end its mask mandate on February 28th, with the fact that Omicron is less severe and case levels are low attributed as reasons why, with Illinois also opting to make the change on that day. Oregon too is holding off on making an immediate change, with their indoor mask mandate scheduled to expire on March 31st.
Whilst universal mask mandates may be set to fall, that doesn’t mean travelers should neglect to pack them. Masks are still widely required on public transport, and businesses may also choose to put into place their own mask requirements, regardless of the state’s proposed changes to requirements – not to mention that they can help to keep travelers safe in busy environments.
Despite the changes made by several US states, the CDC’s position on the wearing of masks remains the same – for now. The CDC states that people over the age of 2 should wear masks in public if they are:
- Not fully vaccinated
- Fully vaccinated and in an area with substantial or high transmission
- Fully vaccinated and with weakened immune systems
The CDC’s website also adds that, in general, masks do not need to be worn in outdoor settings.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com