The 13 States With the Most Lax Face Mask Laws

Unlike other areas of the country, these states don't require face masks to be worn in in public.

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The use of face masks has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially as public places start to reopen. In some states residents are even required to wear masks in certain public situations. But for every state with strict mask mandates, there's one that opts for few regulations, if not none at all. These are the states that have some of the most lax face mask laws. And for the face covering you may want to steer clear of, States Are Banning This One Type of Face Mask.

1
Alaska

Anchorage Skyline with a winter reflection
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As of June 3, on a state level, Alaska only recommends that employees of reopened businesses wear face coverings, according to Littler, a law firm that focuses on labor and employment law. While various cities in Alaska may have different takes on mask regulations, no where in the state is it required for residents to wear face masks. And for other ways states are enforcing health violations, check out the 10 States Where You Will Be Fined for Not Social Distancing.

2
Idaho

View of Boise downtown and Idaho Capitol on a fine autumn morning as seen from Capitol Blvd, Boise, Idaho, USA
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Idaho simply encourages employers to "identify how personal use items such as masks, face coverings, and gloves" may be required by their employees and customers, but makes no official state-wide requirement. They also only "strongly recommend" that the general public uses face masks.

3
Iowa

iowa city old capitol building in iowa before being moved to des moines
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According to Littler, Iowa has no recommendations or requirements for the use of face masks within the state. And for more on this particular safety measure, This Is How Many People Need to Wear Masks to Stop the Coronavirus.

4
Kansas

Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas and the county seat of Sedgwick County.
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In Kansas, people are simply only recommended to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth while out in public. No state-wide order has addressed regulations, like retail employees having to wear face masks while working, that are common in other parts of the country.

5
Missouri

skyline of st. louis missouri
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When "social distancing measures are difficult to maintain" in public settings, Missouri asks that people wear cloth face coverings. However, there is no state mandate. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

6
Montana

downtown billings montana
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Montana has no statewide recommendation or requirement that people wear face masks while out in public, according to Littler.

7
North Carolina

skyline of downtown charlotte north carolina
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According to North Carolina state policies, retail businesses are encouraged, though not required, to recommend the use of face masks by employees who work with customers. Members of the public are also simply recommended to wear face coverings.

8
Oklahoma

Oklahoma City
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There is no statewide order requiring residents to wear face masks in Oklahoma, according to Littler, but some cities or counties may have provisions for employees and customers.

9
South Carolina

aerial view of downtown columbia south carolina
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South Carolina state laws currently say that employees should be encouraged to wear face masks, but note that they "should be optional for employees with underlying respiratory illness."

10
South Dakota

Panorama of Rapid City, South Dakota, USA
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In South Dakota, people are encouraged—though not required—to wear face protection in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

11
Tennessee

knoxville, Tennessee, USA downtown skyline at twilight.
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According to state guidelines, employees working within Tennessee borders and members of the public are both only encouraged to wear face coverings.

12
Texas

austin texas skyline at dusk
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In a state-wide order, Texas says that businesses should "consider having all employees wear face coverings." However, some counties and cities within the state have their own recommendations and requirements.

13
Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconson
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Wisconsin just recommends that people wear face masks while they are out "conducting essential activities." However, failing to do so does not put you in violation of any formal regulation.

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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