In Which U.S. States Are Face Masks Mandatory? New COVID Rules Explained

Some U.S. states have reinstated mask mandates amid the threat of the Omicron variant.

The first case of the latest COVID variant in the U.S. was reported on December 1. According to the report, published last Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 43 Omicron cases identified across at least 25 states so far.

Of the 43 Omicron cases in the U.S., 34 were reported to be among fully vaccinated people and 14 of them had received a booster shot, though five of those cases occurred less than two weeks after the additional shot, Reuters reported last Friday .

According to the CDC website, updated on December 13: "Despite the increased attention of Omicron, Delta continues to be the main variant circulating in the United States."

The federal body said vaccines are the best way to "reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging" and "masks offer protection against all variants."

The CDC continues to advise "wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high community transmission," regardless of your vaccination status.

U.S. States Where Face Masks Are Mandatory

There are at least nine states where masks are currently required under certain circumstances, according to USA Today and other reports. They include the following states, listed in alphabetical order:

California

Masks are required for unvaccinated individuals and in certain settings such as on public transport and at health-care facilities.

See the California government website for more information.

Connecticut

Masks are mandated for all unvaccinated people in indoor settings. All people (regardless of vaccination status) are required to wear face coverings on public transit, in school buildings, at health-care facilities as well as at nursing homes, in prisons and in other group residential settings.

See the Connecticut government website for more information.

Hawaii

All individuals aged five and older are required to wear face coverings in public settings, although there are exemptions, according to the state's updated mask order.

Businesses are asked to "refuse admission or service to any individual who fails to wear a face covering," and establishments "not enforcing this rule may be subject to enforcement, including fines and mandatory closure," the order says.

See Hawaii's updated mask mandate for more information.

Illinois

According to an executive order signed in early September by the state governor, all individuals aged two and older are required to wear a mask in indoor public places.

See the Illinois government website for more information.

Nevada

Face coverings are required for all people, regardless of their vaccination status, in all Nevada counties that are "experiencing substantial or high transmission levels" of COVID infection based on the latest CDC criteria.

See the Nevada government website for more information.

New Mexico

The latest guidelines in New Mexico require everyone aged two and older, regardless of vaccine status, to wear a face covering when in public indoor spaces "except when drinking, eating or under medical instruction."

See the New Mexico government website for more information.

New York

Masks are currently required for all those over the age of two in all indoor public places except in venues that have COVID vaccination as a requirement for entry.

Masks are also mandated for everyone on public transit and in health care and long-term care facilities, schools, child care centers, correctional facilities and detention centers, homeless shelters as well as state-regulated group homes for those with developmental disabilities, mental health or substance abuse issues.

See the New York government website for more information.

Oregon

Face coverings are required in all indoor spaces in Oregon. Indoor spaces include public and private workplaces, businesses, indoor areas open to the public, building lobbies, common or shared spaces, classrooms, elevators, bathrooms, transportation services and "other indoor space where people may gather for any purpose,"

See the Oregon government website for more information.

Washington

Those aged five and older are required to wear a mask in public indoor settings, as well as at outdoor events with 500 or more attendees, regardless of vaccination status.

See the Washington government website for more information.

A mask requirement sign in LA.
A mask requirement sign seen back in July 2021 at the entrance of a store in Los Angeles, California. Face coverings are required in some states amid the threat of the Omicron COVID variant. Chris Delmas / AFP via Getty Images