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After New York Supreme Court Decision, Only 11 States Have Mask Mandates in Place

Newsweek logo Newsweek 1/25/2022 Darragh Roche
Gov. Kathy Hochul tours a Queens public school to view safety precautions ahead of its opening during the continued Covid outbreak on August 18, 2021 in New York City. Hochul has said she will fight a court ruling that struck down a statewide mask mandate. © Spencer Platt/Getty Images Gov. Kathy Hochul tours a Queens public school to view safety precautions ahead of its opening during the continued Covid outbreak on August 18, 2021 in New York City. Hochul has said she will fight a court ruling that struck down a statewide mask mandate.

The New York Supreme Court's decision to strike down the state's COVID-19 mask mandate has left just 11 states across the nation with widespread masking requirements.

The court threw out Governor Kathy Hochul's statewide order that required New Yorkers to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, except in businesses that implemented a vaccine requirement.

Hochul has said she will seek to reverse the decision "immediately" but in the meantime, the court's action means that just a handful of states now have stringent mask mandates.

Eleven states other than New York had mask mandates of varying degrees as of January, 2022.

Eight states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington—require most people to wear masks in indoor settings regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico also have similar orders in place, while the state of Connecticut has an indoor mask mandate that applies only to those who have not been vaccinated.

Rhode Island requires masking for everyone at indoor venues with a capacity of 250 people or more. Masking is also required in smaller venues unless those venues implement a vaccine requirement.

Smaller businesses may choose to require masks for patrons who do not show proof of vaccination, require masks for all customers, or require proof of vaccination for admittance.

Washington state requires mask-wearing in indoor settings and also requires masks at outdoor venues where more than 500 people attend regardless of their vaccination status.

The status of mask requirements varies from state to state and in some cases, local authorities have issued their own mandates, including in states where a general order is not in place. Many states had mask mandates earlier in the pandemic but subsequently lifted them or allowed them to expire.

Three states that do not currently have a general mask mandate nonetheless require mask-wearing in schools. These states are Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

In Louisiana, schools can opt out if they implement quarantine guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Kentucky's school mask mandate was repealed by the state legislature in September.

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Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin recently issued an executive order aimed at ending mask mandates in the state's schools, which seven school boards are now attempting to challenge in the courts.

Governor Hochul responded to the New York Supreme Court decision in a statement issued on Monday.

"My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives," Hochul said.

"We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately," she said.

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