Health and Wellness

Where you still need to wear Covid face masks — and where you don't anymore

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With no more federal Covid mask mandate on airplanes and other forms of public transportation, you might be wondering: Where in the U.S. am I still required to wear a face covering?

On Monday, a federal judge in Tampa, Florida, struck down the requirement, ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority when it created the mandate. The Biden administration said Tuesday that it would likely appeal the decision — but in the meantime, airlines and local transit authorities are responsible for creating and enforcing their own mask policies.

Most major U.S. airlines, along with Amtrack and ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft, quickly moved to make face coverings optional — though often still encouraged, per the CDC's latest guidelines — for most people using their services. Some transit agencies have already dropped their mask requirements, too.

Others aren't budging, joining a smattering of cities and states across the country maintaining mask mandates in places like restaurants, sporting arenas and public schools.

Here are some of the country's most notable places where you still have to wear a face covering — at least, for now.

Where you still need to wear a Covid face mask

  • Philadelphia: Masks are currently required at the Philadelphia International Airport and in many of the city's indoor spaces, like restaurants, museums, sporting areas and government buildings. The city's mandate went into effect on Monday, after officials said Covid cases had increased 50% over the prior two weeks. The Philadelphia School District also requires face coverings. Local businesses and institutions can enact mask-free policies if they check people's vaccine status upon entry.
  • Public schools in Hawaii: The state's mask mandate remains in effect in public school classrooms, and is currently set to stay that way through May 27.
  • Public transit systems in at least four major cities: New York City's public transit system announced on Tuesday that its mask mandate remains in place for all buses, subway trains and rail lines, including the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. Transit lines in Portland, Seattle and Chicago also still require face coverings.
  • Ubers and Lyfts in New York: New York's transit announcement also included mask mandates in ride-sharing vehicles. Uber and Lyft both say local regulations take precedence over their own rules, meaning that face coverings are still required for both drivers and riders in the city. If you live outside New York, check your local regulations before getting into a car.
  • Most Broadway theaters: On Friday, a majority of New York's Broadway theaters announced that while they'll stop checking the vaccination status of ticket holders, they'll still require masks indoors through at least May 31.
  • Individual businesses with mask-wearing policies: Across most of the country, individual businesses — including airlines and other transit services — are now responsible for setting and enforcing their own policies around face coverings. Check any company's specific policy before showing up at its front door mask-less.
  • Select school districts across the country: Similarly, mask mandates in U.S. public schools are now largely determined on a district-by-district basis. Check your local district's policies before proceeding.

The CDC currently recommends different mask-wearing guidelines for different communities across the country, based on the agency's calculations of transmission and risk levels. If you live in a low-risk area, the CDC says, "wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk."

In medium-risk areas, the CDC specifically recommends that immunocompromised people wear masks indoors. In high-risk areas, the agency says, everyone should "wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk."

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