Which states have the fewest COVID restrictions? You may need to know for work, school, or other reasons. Do you have to plan a road trip for work or for personal projects? Do you have to fly to another state to visit family? There are many reasons why you should know the restrictions at your final destination.
For those concerned about virus safety and protecting those around them, information about state, county, and local COVID restrictions gives a traveler a good idea about the severity of the outbreak in a given area, but also a potential indication of how politicized COVID-19 might be in a certain region.
For example, those traveling to Florida understand that masks, vaccines, and other pandemic containment measures have been made into a political football at the state government level. Anyone who must spend time going to or from the state should know that such conditions represent an elevated risk for those in the state.
While some Americans may be confused about the need for masks and social distancing in areas where case numbers are high, most just want to know what is expected of them and plan accordingly.
Which states have the fewest COVID restrictions? With the changing nature of the global pandemic, this question may be difficult to answer definitively.
But it’s possible to look at how some states have chosen to deal with the pandemic in terms of mask requirements and other limitations to get a read on which states are more hands-off in terms of vaccines, masks, social distancing, and other measures meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The following list of states–and it’s most states at this point–contains those without mask mandates:
- American Samoa
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Many states have chosen to suggest adherence to CDC guidelines for masking, self-quarantine, and other measures but not as a mandatory requirement.
While the federal government does have some authority to impose certain conditions, in general it’s the state and local governments with the most responsibility in a “boots-on-the-ground” sense for establishing and enforcing standards in this area.
But how effective ARE local mask mandates? According to one Centers For Disease Control study in Kansas, (as reported by U.S. News And World Report) the 2020 mask requirement established in Kansas by Governor Laura Kelly resulted in 24 counties with mask requirements experiencing a decrease in COVID-19.
Compare that to the 81 counties that chose NOT to enforce a mask requirement in 2020–these 81 Kansas counties saw a continued increase in COVID-19 cases. Mask requirements work when implemented, but not all states or counties choose to mandate them.
This makes it crucial for travelers to have more information at their disposal before they fly, drive, or take a train outside their local areas. In many cases you can get more information from any state’s official health department official site, and you can also tune into local news to see what the latest requirements for visiting, working, or relocating to a new area during the pandemic.