Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

To mask or not to mask: which places still require face coverings in the US?

To mask or not to mask: which places still require face coverings in the US?

After a judge struck down the mandate on transportation what anti-Covid mask rules apply in places from hospitals to theaters?

Most US airlines and airports, the ride-sharing company Uber and national train service Amtrak are now lifting Covid-related mask mandates that have been in place for more than a year.

The shift comes after a judge in Florida ruled against a federal mandate and the Biden administration said it would not enforce one even as Covid-19 infections are rising again in the US, and more than 400 people are dying every day from the airborne disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was continuing to study whether mask mandates are necessary, and the Biden administration said on Tuesday that it may appeal against the court ruling, depending on the CDC’s findings.

But the White House is still urging Americans to wear masks, and they are still required in some areas.

Hospitals, nursing homes and clinics

Some hospital chains, like UnityPoint Health in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, have dropped mask requirements for patients, visitors and fully vaccinated employees since the Florida ruling. But the majority of medical facilities are still requiring masks indoors.

Broadway shows

More than 40 Broadway theaters will still require masks until at least the end of May, according to a website representing the theaters.

New York, Boston and San Francisco

Some US cities, including Washington DC, quickly suspended mask requirements on public transportation and in other public spaces, but others kept them in place.

Passengers in New York City must wear masks in indoor train stations, and onboard subways, commuter rail, buses and para-transit vehicles, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, North America’s largest transportation network, says. The same goes for passengers on Boston’s public buses and commuter rail network and San Francisco’s Bart transit network.

Some airports

Most major airports, including ones in Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, have dropped their mask mandate. Two major exceptions are New York City’s JFK and LaGuardia airports, both of which still have mask mandates in place. The requirement was dropped at nearby Newark Liberty international airport in New Jersey.

Some regional airports, like in Philadelphia, also still have mask mandates in place.

Private businesses

Small business owners can ask patrons to wear masks, and refuse entry to people who do not.

K-12 schools

Some public school districts still have mask requirements in place, including in Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

Higher education

A handful of major colleges and universities recently reinstated mask requirements, after Covid-19 cases rose. Georgetown University in Washington DC, reinstated its indoor mask mandate on 7 April, citing a “significant increase” in coronavirus cases thanks to the highly contagious BA.2 variant.

Johns Hopkins has also recently reinstated mask mandates in common areas and dining halls, after an outbreak of Covid infections after spring break.


Though many museums had dropped mandates before the federal mandate was lifted, some museums are keeping theirs in place, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma).

Jails and prisons

Visitors to many jails and prisons are still required to wear masks, according to information on their websites, including in Los Angeles county, home to the world’s largest jail, and in Washington state.

At the US-Canada border

US residents traveling to Canada are still required to wear masks in public spaces once they cross the border, and for 14 days afterwards.


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