A nationwide patchwork of rules for businesses

All across the country, mask mandates have eased, restrictions have lifted and most states have gone back to business as usual. It appears nearly the entire country will be open with few restrictions by the Fourth of July.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it has been largely up to state and local officials to determine what restrictions, if any, to impose to slow new infections. A nationwide patchwork of rules for businesses and residents resulted over months of trial and error, as governors reopened some sectors only to later re-close and reopen them again as infection rates rose and fell.

States have moved closer to lifting all restrictions on businesses and gatherings as the vaccination campaign has progressed. In the few states that have yet to fully reopen, governors have set targets for doing so based on vaccination rates or other health measures.

A full reopening still comes with rules in many places. Some states continue to require the use of masks for unvaccinated people, and some governors are still mandating that businesses observe social distancing rules, even as they lift capacity limits.

Many states eased mask requirements for those who are vaccinated after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that fully vaccinated people could go without masks in most indoor and outdoor settings.

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 might 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 CDC guidance on masks. Local governmental entities or private businesses may still have restrictions.

Here’s a look at each state’s restrictions.

• California: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ended the stay-at-home order on June 15. The health department has ordered all unvaccinated individuals over age 2 to wear a mask in indoor public spaces and businesses. Vaccine verification or negative testing is required for indoor mega events (crowds larger than 5,000).

• Colorado: Fully reopened.
• Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont (D) lifted most business restrictions May 19. Restaurants must limit parties to 8 people per table and close indoor dining by midnight. A mask order in effect through July 20 requires unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

How and Why to Double-Mask
• Delaware: Gov. John Carney (D) modified coronavirus-related restrictions, effective May 21. Individuals are encouraged, but no longer required, to wear a face covering when in indoor public places. Face coverings are still required in limited circumstances, such as when using public transportation or ride-hailing services or in health care facilities.

Social gatherings in public spaces are capped at 250 people. Individuals from different households should stay 3 feet apart from one another. With permission from the health department, public indoor gatherings larger than 250 are allowed. Businesses are no longer under capacity limits but must make handwashing or hand sanitizing stations available and are encouraged to modify practices to allow for social distancing.

 

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• Hawaii: Gov. David Ige (D) 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. Each county has its own restrictions on gatherings. A statewide mandate requires individuals age 5 and older to wear a face mask in indoor public settings. Masks are not required outdoors. Ige extended until Aug. 6 a moratorium on residential evictions for tenants who fail to pay rent.

• Kansas: In 2020, Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced that counties should come up with 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 mandated a quarantine for people arriving in Kansas who had traveled to certain states or countries with widespread transmission, but 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. Fully vaccinated people who have been asymptomatic since they traveled are not required to quarantine. The health department recommends individuals over age 2 wear a mask in public but doesn’t require it.

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