7 States Where You're Breaking the Law if You Don't Wear a Face Mask

While most states are recommending using face masks, some actually mandate them. Here's where it's the law.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the use of cloth face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19. In turn, many states have issued their own recommendations for residents to wear masks. However, some states are going a step further and are requiring residents to wear face masks when out in public (with the exception of young children and those with medical conditions). These are seven states where face masks are required, so you're technically breaking the law by going out without one! And for more you should know about face masks, check out How Many People Need to Wear Masks to Stop the Coronavirus.

1
Connecticut

Entering Connecticut
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Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order requiring Connecticut residents to wear face masks in public starting Apr. 20. According to the Hartford Courant, Lamont expects residents to self-enforce the rule and hasn't discussed a fine for those who defy the order, but businesses can refuse entry to patrons not wearing face masks. And for more face mask guidance, check out The No. 1 Mistake You're Making When You Take Off Your Face Mask.

2
Delaware

Welcome to Delaware road sign at the state border
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In a modification to his State of Emergency declaration, Gov. John Carney issued an order stating that Delaware residents had to wear face coverings in "public settings, including in grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, doctor's offices, and on public transportation" starting May 1, except for children 12 years old or younger. According to the official Delaware government website, "violations of the emergency order, or any of its modifications, constitute a criminal offense."

3
Hawaii

Hawaii sign welcoming visitors
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Unless you're just going out for a stroll or drive, you have to wear a face mask in Hawaii. In Gov. David Ige's executive order, he mandates that, while waiting to enter and while at an essential business or operation in Hawaii, all customers have to wear a face covering. And employees who have contact with customers or goods must wear face masks as well. Those who violate this order could face a fine up to $5,000 or one year in jail. And if you're wondering if your face mask is effective, check out 7 Signs You Need to Replace Your Face Mask ASAP.

4
Illinois

Flag of the state of Illinois.
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As of May 1, Illinois residents (except those under the age of two) are required to wear face masks when they can't maintain a six-foot distance in public, NBC Chicago reported. However Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he's not "encouraging police officers to stop people and arrest them or take drastic action" if they're not wearing a mask. Instead, he encourages police officers to remind people that face masks are required and says private establishments need to require people to wear face masks in order to enter their businesses.

5
Massachusetts

Welcome to Massachusetts road sign.
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Gov. Charlie Baker issued an order that required all Massachusetts residents to wear face coverings in public places (both indoor and outdoor) where social distancing is not possible starting May 6. The only exceptions are those under the age of two or those with medical conditions preventing them from wearing a mask. NBC Boston reported that those who defy the mandate could face up to a $300 fine, however only citations have been given in the greater Boston area so far. Largely, officials are "handing out masks and seeking voluntary compliance." And if you need help cleaning your mask, check out The No. 1 Way to Clean Your Face Mask.

6
New York

neon new York sign hanging up
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo was one of the first governors to require face masks in public when social distancing is not possible. The New York state order went into effect on Apr. 17. According to the New York City Department of Health, if you "live in a facility that has shared kitchens, bathrooms, or other common spaces," you even have to wear a face covering when you leave your apartment or room. And for masks that might not meet the requirements, check out The One Type of Mask You Should Never Wear.

7
Rhode Island

The section dedicated to fallen soldiers of the state of Rhode Island at the US War Memorial in Washington DC.
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The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation reported that starting May 8, residents must wear a face mask while out in public, "except children under two and people whose health would be damaged by wearing a face covering." Employees working with customers, office-based businesses, construction workers, and manufacturers are also required to where face coverings while at work, and businesses must provide masks to all employees. And for more about how certain states are faring during the coronavirus, check out The States With the Most People Out of Work.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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