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Many States are Requiring Mask Wearing in Public Spaces

— May 4, 2020

Many states are now requiring individuals to wear masks when social distancing is impossible.

As states are struggling to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many are now requiring that individuals entering businesses or who otherwise unable to be six feet from anyone around them need to have a mask on.  To date, some states are still ‘advising’ residents to wear protective gear in public, but more will likely mandate mask wearing in the coming weeks.

Connecticut, for example, is one such state.  The mask requirement in Connecticut applies to those who cannot socially distance and to any resident in a public place and over the age of two.  Anyone taking public transportation, including taxis or ride share services also needs to be wearing a face cover.

Essential workers in the state must wear masks to cover their mouth and nose at all times while at work, and employers need to provide masks or the material to make a homemade version.  All customers frequenting these places must also have their mouths and noses covered if they are over the age of two.  If someone is refusing to follow the order, they must show that doing so has been deemed a medical hazard and provide proof (i.e., a respiratory issue that would prevent the person from being able to breathe).

Many States are Requiring Mask Wearing in Public Spaces
Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

In Hawaii, employees and customers at essential businesses are required to wear face coverage.  Anyone who violates those rules could face a fine up to $5,000 or up to a year in prison if found guilty, according to the order.

In Maryland, commuters and employees must wear face coverings while using public transit, according to an executive order from Governor Larry Hogan.  Employees and customers over age nine must wear face coverings inside essential businesses.

Michigan’s newly released executive order requires residents to wear face coverings in any enclosed area, including grocery stores.  Governor Gretchen Whitmer “strongly encouraged” mask wearing while outdoors.

New Jersey requires that customers and employees wear masks at essential businesses and construction sites.  Businesses must provide them to employees and deny entry to any customers who refuse to wear them.  Public transit employees and users, including those seeking Lyft and Uber rides, must follow the order and commuters could be refused a ride if they do not have a mask.

In New York, the hardest hit state, Governor Andrew Cuomo is requiring all residents over the age of two to wear masks when they are in public or otherwise unable to socially distance.

Pennsylvania’s essential businesses must provide masks for their employees and require them to wear the masks.  Customers at these businesses must wear masks or will be denied entry.

In Rhode Island, employees of essential businesses are required to wear cloth face coverings unless that employee can continually maintain at least six feet of distance from other employees.  All employees must wear face coverings when entering and exiting the building or using common areas, and their employers must provide mask materials.

The new requirements are legally enforceable and override any previous anti-mask laws.  Some advocates are concerned that racial minorities will be discriminated against if they abide by the requirements, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending all states adopt guidelines for wearing masks to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19.


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