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

By Jeannie O'Sullivan
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Law360 (May 25, 2021, 4:29 PM EDT) -- The continuing decline in COVID-19 cases and the upcoming Memorial Day holiday spurred more reopening activity this past week in places like New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy announced the major move of lifting the indoor mask mandate and indoor and outdoor social distancing requirements ahead of the holiday weekend.

The Garden State still wants to encourage vaccination, however, so immunized residents now get free access to state parks and a complimentary beverage at participating wineries. Pennsylvania is likewise lifting restrictions as of May 31, although it plans to continue certain business and professional licensure waivers for life-sustaining occupations.

Neighboring New York is also looking toward the post-pandemic era with the announcement that schools must resume in-person operations in September.

Here is 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.


Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday unveiled the Employer Vaccination Toolkit to help businesses to make immunization more accessible to their workforces. The kit includes vaccine education materials, information on pandemic supplemental paid sick leave and a form to request vaccination support from providers.


In a joint announcement Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Discovery Partners Institute unveiled a plan to monitor the presence of the coronavirus and its variants in wastewater. The program will be supported by $5.5 million in health department funds and begin with sampling and analysis in the counties of Carroll, Cass, Franklin, Fulton, Jefferson, Lawrence, Livingston, Macon, Montgomery and Vermilion.

New Jersey

In what he touted as the "most significant reopening steps to date," Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Monday lifting major coronavirus restrictions, such as the indoor mask mandate in public places and the 6-foot social distancing requirement in indoor and outdoor public places, as of May 28. The order also lifts the prohibition on dance floors and on dining while standing at bars and restaurants as of May 28 and removes the indoor gathering and capacity limits as of June 4.

Murphy on May 19 unveiled new vaccination incentives as part of "Operation Jersey Summer," a public awareness campaign to encourage those who live or work in the Garden State to get immunized against the coronavirus. The new incentives include free access to state parks and a free glass of wine at participating wineries for those who get vaccinated.

New York

All schools will resume in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year beginning in September, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday. He said the decision was based on the downward trend of coronavirus cases.

Cuomo on May 19 unveiled guidance for the operation of summer camps and child care facilities, including procedures for coronavirus testing, social distancing and sanitation. Health officials will continue to evaluate health metrics for camps and facilities and issue updated guidance if needed.


Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday that while all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted on Memorial Day, he is renewing the emergency declaration again in order to continue certain waivers and extensions for residents and businesses. The waivers lift, among other things, the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment compensation, and also suspend certain training requirements and certification and licensure renewals for health care professionals and other workers who provide life-sustaining services.


The state has been approved for $2.5 billion in federal food benefits for families with children who temporarily lost access to reduced-price school meals over the past school year due to the coronavirus, Gov. Greg Abbott said May 20.

Abbott on May 18 signed an executive order prohibiting government departments and officials from mandating face coverings or restricting activities as part of the state's coronavirus response.

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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