Coronavirus Regulations: A State-By-State Week In Review

By Jeannie O'Sullivan
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Law360 (March 16, 2021, 6:13 PM EDT) -- The first 12 months of the coronavirus pandemic were marked by the passage of a much-anticipated $1.9 trillion stimulus package this past week, as states forged ahead with vaccination expansion initiatives and relaxed rules for newly reopened industries.

Illinois made strides in rural areas, where its National Guard deployed mobile immunization units, and also launched an effort to improve health care access in communities feeling the brunt of the pandemic.

Pennsylvania revved up its vaccine plan in order to meet the federal timeline for vaccinations, and also established subcommittees on its coronavirus task force to tackle topics such as aging, the workforce, racial equality and education.

Finally, foodies in New Jersey and New York City can rejoice in expanded restaurant capacity limits as of Friday.

Here's a breakdown of some of the COVID-19-related state measures from the past week.

Click for state-by-state data on COVID-19 legislation and executive orders, powered by LexisNexis.


In a joint announcement on March 10, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the Garden State and New York City will increase indoor restaurant dining capacity to 50% as of March 19. Eateries in the two regions are currently permitted to operate at 35% indoor capacity, while the rest of New York State has a 50% capacity limit.


In a joint announcement Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom, State Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon vowed to continue working on measures to provide additional relief to businesses and the workforce related to the federal Paycheck Protection Program. However, they said "legislation that would conform to the federal tax treatment of these grants will be delayed temporarily" as lawmakers seek guidance from the federal government.


In a joint statement with health officials on Tuesday, Gov. John Carney expanded vaccination eligibility, effective Wednesday, to those 50 and older and to patients 16 and older with high- and moderate-risk health conditions


Officials on Monday announced the launch of a rural vaccination pilot program starting this week with the deployment of National Guard mobile units in Fayette, Shelby, Moultrie and Clay counties.

Residents who don't have access to or have difficulty with online vaccination appointments may now seek assistance from the newly established vaccine appointment call center, health officials announced Friday. The call center will be "critical in bridging the digital divide and ensuring the vaccine reaches all communities," officials said.

Also on Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation to increase access to health care in underserved communities, including those disproportionately affected by the virus. The state will invest $150 million in the initiative, with support from federal matching funds.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday scaled back limits on business operations and gatherings, effective March 19. Restaurants, gyms, personal care businesses and indoor recreational venues like casinos may operate at 50% capacity, up from 35% capacity. Indoor gathering limits may increase from 10 to 25 people and outdoor gatherings can move from 25 to 30 people.


Citing declining coronavirus cases and increasing vaccination rates, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday that restaurants may shed restrictions — such as the ban on bar service and ordering alcohol without food — as of April 4. Likewise, eateries that are self-certified in the government's safety mandates may operate at 75% capacity, while restaurants that are not self-certified must limit capacity to 50%.

In furtherance of President Joe Biden's goal to make every American adult eligible for the vaccine as of May 1, Wolf unveiled plans Friday to accelerate the state's immunization efforts. The initiative entails requiring vaccine providers to schedule all Phase 1A appointments by the end of the month and to establish regional vaccination clinics.

Also on Friday, Wolf announced that the state's COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force has formed subcommittees focused on aging, racial equality, business/workforce, and education. The goal of the subcommittees is "collaboration and stakeholder input through productive conversation," Wolf said.

New York

Wedding receptions and catered events can now resume statewide subject to health and safety protocols such as face masks and social distancing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. Venues must adhere to a 50% capacity limit with no more than 150 attendees, and all attendees must sign in to assist with contract tracing and bring proof of a recent negative test result or immunization.

Also on Monday, Cuomo announced that the annual Bethpage Air Show at Long Island's Jones Beach State Park will return this Memorial Day weekend. The event, which features military and civilian aerial performers, was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus.

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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