Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:
- Changes in coronavirus restrictions in Vermont
- The end of a school mask requirement in Utah
- COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year
We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered yesterday? Click here.
The next 72 hours
What is changing in the next 72 hours?
- Maryland (divided government): On Wednesday, May 12, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced he would end all statewide COVID-19 restrictions on businesses May 15, including indoor and outdoor capacity limits. Hogan also said he would lift the statewide indoor mask mandate once 70% of adult residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. At the time of the announcement, that figure stood at 65%.
- Missouri (Republican trifecta): Gov. Mike Parson (R) directed all state employees to return to pre-coronavirus in-person work settings no later than May 17. On the same day, all state buildings must reopen to the public during normal business hours.
- New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, May 13, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that 10 of the 11 state-run vaccination sites will allow walk-in appointments beginning Monday, May 17. Sununu said each site will dedicate 50 doses a day to walk-ins.
- New York (Democratic trifecta):
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will lift the midnight curfew on bars and restaurants starting May 17 for outdoor dining areas. The 1 a.m. curfew for catered events will end May 17 for events where all attendees are fully vaccinated or provide proof of a recent negative test to event organizers.
- Gyms in New York City will expand to 50% capacity May 15.
- Pennsylvania (divided government):
- Indoor limits for events and gatherings (like fairs, festivals, and concerts) will expand to 50% occupancy starting May 17. Outdoor occupancy limits for events and gatherings will expand to 75%.
- Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam announced fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most indoor public settings, effective immediately. Beam also said the mask order will be fully lifted once 70% of residents over 18 are fully vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals still need to wear masks on public transportation, at places where medical care is offered (like doctor’s offices and hospitals), and at public transportation hubs (like bus stations and airports). Local businesses can still require all patrons to wear masks.
- Utah (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, May 13, Gov. Spencer Cox (R) announced he would end the statewide mask requirement for students, teachers, and staff in K-12 schools on Saturday, May 15. Local districts will have the option of keeping the requirements in place.
- Virginia (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is lifting a series of statewide coronavirus restrictions beginning May 15. The limit on indoor gatherings will increase from 50 to 100 people, while the outdoor limit will increase from 100 to 250 people. Indoor venues will be permitted to operate at 50% capacity or 1,000 people, while outdoor venues will be permitted to operate at 50% capacity with no absolute limit on the number of people allowed in. Additionally, indoor sports venues will be permitted to allow up to 250 spectators or 50% capacity, whichever is less. Outdoor venues will be permitted to seat 1,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is less. Restaurants will also be allowed to sell alcohol after midnight.
Since our last edition
What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.
- Multistate news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) amended its mask guidance May 13. The new recommendations say fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor public settings, regardless of the number of people gathered. The guidance still recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks and social distance at doctor’s offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities like nursing homes. Masks are also recommended in congregate settings (like homeless shelters and prisons), when traveling on public transportation (like on planes and buses), and at transportation hubs (like airports and bus stations).
- Arizona (Republican trifecta): Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced the state will stop participating in federal pandemic unemployment programs beginning July 10. Ducey also announced the Back To Work bonus, which will give $2,000 to eligible residents who return to the workforce full time and $1,000 to people who return part-time. For more information on the unemployment changes and Back To Work bonuses, click here.
- Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended the state’s coronavirus emergency order an additional 30 days.
- Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced fully vaccinated people will not have to wear masks in most indoor public settings starting May 19. Unvaccinated residents will still have to wear masks in public indoor areas. Vaccinated individuals still need to wear masks on public transportation, at places where medical care is offered (like doctor’s offices and hospitals), and at public transportation hubs (like bus stations and airports).
- Illinois (Democratic trifecta):
- The state is moving to the Bridge Phase of reopening on May 14. To see changes to business restrictions in the Bridge Phase, click here.
- Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced he would amend the state’s mask requirements to align with the CDC’s guidance. Pritzker did not say when he would update the order.
- Pritzker also announced a partnership with Six Flags to give free tickets to residents who get vaccinated.
- Kentucky (divided government):
- Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most public indoor settings. To read the state’s full guidance, click here.
- Beshear also announced all business capacity restrictions will end June 11. On the same day, the mask mandate for unvaccinated people will end “with the exceptions of places where people are the most vulnerable.”
- Maine (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Janet Mills (D) will end capacity and social distancing requirements for most businesses starting May 24. Distancing requirements will remain for indoor bars and restaurants. Mills said the mask requirement will remain in effect until public officials could review the new CDC guidelines.
- Minnesota (divided government): On Friday, May 14, Gov. Tim Walz (D) ended the statewide mask mandate. The state encourages unvaccinated individuals to continue wearing masks indoors.
- Nevada (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, May 13, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an order exempting vaccinated people from the statewide mask mandate. The order aligns the state’s mask mandate with CDC guidance that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear a mask indoors in most circumstances.
- New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order easing restrictions starting May 19. The outdoor gathering limit will end, and the private indoor gatherings limit will expand from 25 to 50 people. Capacity restrictions on most businesses (including restaurants, retailers, and personal care service businesses) will end, though six-foot social distancing will still be required. Large indoor venues can expand from 20% to 30% capacity. Indoor catered events will still be limited to 250 people but will not also have to observe 50% capacity restrictions.
- Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most public indoor settings.
- Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, May 13, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear a mask while indoors. The mandate still applies to unvaccinated people, or people who have not completed both doses of a two-dose vaccination schedule.
- Vermont (divided government): On Friday, May 14, Gov. Phil Scott (R) moved the state into the third phase of the “Vermont Forward Plan.” In the third phase of the plan, out-of-state travelers no longer need to receive a negative COVID-19 test within three days of arriving in the state. Vaccinated people can gather indoors and outdoors without limit. Up to 300 unvaccinated people can gather indoors, with no more than one person per 50 square feet, while up to 900 unvaccinated people can gather outdoors. Scott also announced that vaccinated people are exempt from the statewide mask mandate.
- West Virginia (Republican trifecta): On Friday, May 14, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced he would issue an order in the afternoon to exempt fully vaccinated individuals from the statewide mask mandate. Justice said the mandate would remain in place for unvaccinated people through June 20.
This time last year: Friday, May 15, 2020
The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.
Friday, May 15, 2020:
- Stay-at-home orders:
- Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) replaced the statewide stay-at-home order with a new initiative called “Be Smart, Stay Safe.” The new initiative relaxed some restrictions on businesses and allowed up to 25 people to gather outdoors.
- Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. He first issued the order on April 1 and extended it on April 29.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire on May 15 at 5:00 p.m. He first issued the order on March 30.
- Louisiana Gov. John Edwards (D) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. He first issued the order on March 22.
- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. He issued the order on March 30, and extended it through May 15 on April 29.
- Travel restrictions:
- Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) announced that out-of-state visitors would no longer need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state. Little said travelers were still encouraged to self-quarantine.
- Election changes:
- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued Executive Order No. 144, expanding mail-in voting in the July 7, 2020, elections. All registered, active Democratic and Republican voters would automatically receive mail-in ballots automatically. Unaffiliated and inactive voters would automatically receive mail-in ballot applications automatically.
- Federal government responses:
- President Donald Trump (R) announced the creation of Operation Warp Speed, an administration task force meant to help develop a coronavirus vaccine. Moncef Slaoui was named as the task force’s chief scientist, and U.S. Army General Gustave Perna was named as its chief operating officer.
- The CDC issued reopening guidelines for businesses and workplaces, including bars and restaurants.
- Mask requirements:
- On May 15, 2020, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed a modified emergency public health order requiring individuals to wear face coverings in public.