Which US states require face masks in public?

Some states have mandated mask-wearing in public, while others have left it to counties and cities to issue rules.

An MTA worker hands out free hand sanitizer and face masks at the Grand Central Station subway during morning rush hour on June 8, 2020 in New York City. Today New York City enters "Phase 1" of a four
A transit worker hands out free hand sanitiser and face masks at Grand Central Station in New York City, where masks are required for anyone in public over the age of two who is not able to practice social distancing [File: Angela Weiss /AFP]

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in 42 states across the United States, federal health officials recommend that all Americans over the age of two wear cloth face coverings in public to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has changed since the start of the pandemic, distinguishes between cloth and medical-grade masks. The latter are in limited supply and should be reserved for front-line healthcare workers, the agency says.

Some of the 50 states have taken the federal recommendation a step further and mandated mask-wearing, while others have left it to counties and cities to implement requirements.

In addition to the state mandates listed below, many national retailers in the US are now requiring masks for all customers regardless of local rules. Those retailers include Target, which goes into effect August 1, and all CVS drugstores. Walmart will begin requiring face masks July 20. Starbucks, Best Buy, Kohl’s and Kroger Co. have also announced mandatory masks nationwide.

Here are the rules around cloth face coverings in selected states:


Alabama’s Republican Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide mask mandate on Wednesday. Individuals will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people.


Anyone over the age of nine must wear a face covering in all indoor and outdoor environments where they are around people outside their household and safe distances cannot be maintained.


As of June 18, California requires masks to be worn in indoor public spaces, including public transit, and outdoors when social distancing is not feasible. The state’s rule exempts people with certain medical conditions and children under 2.

United States coronavirus
A man and little boy walk hand in hand while wearing masks at the Galleria mall in Dallas, Texas, where masks are required in any county with 20 or more COVID-19 cases [File: LM Otero/AP Photo]


Colorado Governor Jared Polis on Thursday issued a statewide mask mandate requiring everyone age 10 and older to wear a mask or other facial covering while in public indoor spaces. Nearly 40 cities and counties in Colorado had already issued mask orders as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations climb in the state.


All persons in Delaware must wear a face covering in public places if they are over the age of two. Businesses are required to refuse entry to customers who are not following the required guidelines.

District of Columbia

Everyone in Washington, DC – except for those actively eating or drinking and those under three years of age – is required to wear a mask when going outside, even those who are alone and not around other people. DC police will able to fine people who are not following the order up to $1000.


While cases have repeatedly leaped by more than 10,000 per day in the last week, the state does not mandate mask-wearing but strongly advises it. Several counties have issued mandates, including Miami-Dade, which requires face coverings in all public settings, outdoor and indoor.


Governor Brian Kemp has strongly encouraged, but not mandated, mask-wearing in his state. Some cities have implemented their own requirements, but on Wednesday Kemp issued an executive order suspending local regulations requiring “face coverings, masks, face shields or any other personal protective equipment” in public.


People over age 2 must wear a mask or face covering when in a public place and not able to stay apart from others. Businesses are required to ensure that employees and visitors wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible.


Indiana residents will be required to wear masks in public starting July 27. Masks or face coverings will be required for everyone 8 years and older who are in public indoor spaces or outside and cannot adequately socially distance. Exceptions include people with medical conditions and when eating or drinking.



From Friday, residents of the state will be required to wear masks when in public. Governor Andy Beshear says the increased case counts from the last few days along with an “explosion” in other states prompted him to issue the executive order.


Individuals are required to wear a cloth face covering in public settings, and businesses such as large retail outlets, restaurants, outdoor bars and hotels must require their customers to be wearing masks.


Any riding public transportation in Maryland is required to wear as mask, as is all customers over the age of nine patronizing retail outlets or food service establishments. Adult customers accompanying children age 2 to 9 must make reasonable efforts to ensure children wear face coverings.


Massachusetts residents over age 2 must wear face coverings in public settings, including in businesses and on public transportation. Businesses may decline entry to any customer refusing to wear a mask for non-medical reasons.


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has mandated that people must wear masks both indoors and outside if they cannot consistently keep six feet away from non-household members. A mask also is needed while using public transportation, a taxi or a ride-sharing vehicle, with some exceptions. She also has ordered that usinesses open to the public deny service or entry to customers who refuse to wear a mask.


Mississippi’s Governor Tate Reeves on Thursday issued an executive order requiring people in 13 counties to wear face masks and banning indoor social gatherings larger than 10 people, and outdoor gatherings of more than 20 people, among other restrictions on businesses.

California masks
Participants on the beach wear masks as San Diego’s Junior Lifeguard Program officially reopens. California requires masks both indoors and outdoors when social distancing is not possible [File: Mike Blake/Reuters]


Masks are required for patrons and providers in the personal services industry, including nail salons and tattoo parlors, as well as for employees at bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and clubs.

New Mexico

Masks are required in New Mexico at all times during any activity outside residents’ home, even while exercising. People who refuse to wear a mask are subject to a $100 fine.

New Jersey

Governor Phil Murphy said on Wednesday that he would sign an executive order requiring people to wear face coverings outdoors whenever social distancing is not possible, in addition to the state requirement that they be worn in indoor public spaces.

New York

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a face-covering order effective April 17 that applies to anyone over the age of two who is in “a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.”


From July 23, Masks will be required in Ohio for people in indoor public places, in outdoor places where social-distancing cannot be maintained, and using public transportation. Exceptions will be made for those who are under the age of 10, have a medical condition, are playing sports, or anyone speaking at a religious service.

Meltdowns over masks amid coronavirus outbreak go viral (1:28)

South Carolina

Cities have imposed their own mask mandates with Governor Henry McMaster’s approval, as he has said the state will not impose a universal requirement.


Governor Greg Abbott imposed a mask-wearing requirement on July 2 that applied to every county with 20 or more COVID-19 cases. Under his order, Abbott said violators would first get a verbal warning and then could face up to $250 in fines.

West Virginia

Governor Jim Justice has ordered able-bodied residents over the age of nine to wear face coverings, but only in “indoor public places where six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.” The order does not apply while driving or eating in restaurants.

Source: News Agencies