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

By Jeannie O'Sullivan · May 18, 2021, 3:58 PM EDT

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation this week that fully vaccinated individuals can dispense with masks and social distancing except where mandated by law unleashed a new wave of COVID-19 restriction scalebacks in multiple states already emboldened by the downtrend in coronavirus cases coupled with their vaccination progress. 

Leaders in Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York all said they were embracing the CDC's guidance. New Jersey agreed to ditch the outdoor mask requirement but stood firm on continuing the mandate at businesses, earning the praise of a prominent grocery workers' union.

In other coronavirus developments, Texas is ending its participation in federal pandemic unemployment benefits, and New York has instituted fully vaccinated seating sections for basketball games at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center.

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. John Carney on Friday announced that, as of May 21, the state is following the CDC's mask guidance. He cautioned that individuals who aren't fully vaccinated, including kids, should continue to wear masks when around others outside of their immediate household.

On May 12 Carney said most business capacity restrictions will be eliminated as of May 21.


Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health jointly announced Monday that the state plans to follow CDC guidance by lifting the mask requirement for fully vaccinated people in most indoor and outdoor settings. Per CDC guidance, the state will still enforce mask-wearing in schools and day cares.


Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted on May 29 and the state of emergency will end on June 15, citing the state's on-track goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June.

Baker on May 12 unveiled the state Commonwealth's Employer Vaccination Program, through which businesses can arrange for their workers to be immunized at state-operated mass vaccination sites.

New Jersey

The New Jersey state judiciary on Monday said it would reopen jury trials and other proceedings to in-person observers starting June 15.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday signed an executive order lifting the face mask requirement in outdoor public spaces, but clarified that masks are still required in indoor public places and workplaces. Masks are no longer required for small, private gatherings indoors.

In another announcement Monday, Murphy said schools will be required to provide full-day, in-person instruction when classes resume this fall.

Also on Monday, Murphy lifted the travel advisory that recommended quarantine for visitors or those returning from states and territories that are considered virus hot spots.

Murphy's continued mask requirement for indoor workplaces drew praise on Sunday from United Food and Commercial Workers International President Marc Perrone, who said the governor is "showing the leadership New Jersey workers need by keeping the mandate in place." The UFCW represents grocery workers.

On Friday, Murphy jointly announced with state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, that the state's coronavirus emergency declaration would be renewed for another 30 days, but that they planned to let it expire moving forward.

New York

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday said the operation of county fairs and local festivals are subject to permitting by municipal governments. Also, state health officials must approve events with an expected attendance of 5,000 or more.

In Monday announcements regarding popular entertainment venues, Cuomo announced that starting May 22, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets will have sections for fully vaccinated fans in order to increase capacity at games at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center. Individuals will have to show proof of immunization status through paper form, digital application or the state's digital vaccination pass. Also, Radio City Music Hall will open its doors for the first time in a year on June 19 to host the Tribeca Festival's closing night film.

Also on Monday, Cuomo announced that the state is adopting CDC recommendations that fully vaccinated individuals don't have to wear masks in most settings. However, businesses are authorized to require them.

On May 12 Cuomo said he'd accepted the recommendation of the New York State Clinical Advisory Task Force to endorse the use of the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years old.


Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday said that effective June 26, the state is opting out of further federal unemployment compensation related to the pandemic. He cited the state's "booming" economy and "voluminous jobs" available, the majority of which he said pay higher than minimum wage.

--Additional reporting by Bill Wichert. Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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