Blue States Reopen Their Economies but Double Down on Mask Mandates

Connecticut, California, Oregon, and Colorado have all signaled that their mask mandates will outlast their pandemic restrictions on businesses.


A growing number of Democratic governors have set end dates for their states' coronavirus business restrictions. At the same time, they're promising to keep mask mandates on the books for the foreseeable future.

On Monday, Connecticut Gov. Nathan Lamont (D) said that come May, bars that don't serve food will be allowed to reopen for outdoor service, an 8-person per table limit on diners will be lifted, and the state's 11 p.m. curfew will be extended to midnight.

Provided that cases stay low and vaccinations continue apace, the governor added, all remaining business restrictions will be lifted by May 19.

That's good news for the state's hospitality industry, which cheered the announcement. But it doesn't represent a full return to the pre-pandemic normal. Lamont made clear that the state's mask mandate would be extended beyond May 19.

"I think we're going to mandate that you continue to wear the mask in school… probably we're going to require indoor masking a little longer, until you're vaccinated," the governor said, according to the Hartford Courant. The state's existing mask mandate, the Courant reported, is supposed to expire on May 20, along with Lamont's emergency pandemic powers.

It's a similar story in California.

Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that so long as COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low and stable, and vaccine supply is sufficient to meet demand, the governor's tiered scheme of business restrictions would be revoked, and the whole state would be allowed to reopen.

Newsom, too, made a point of pairing his reopening announcement with a plea to continue mask wearing for the time being.

"We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here—wearing masks and getting vaccinated—but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter," he said in a press release.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Newsom's announcement did not affect the state's mask mandate. The California Department of Public Health has since said that no changes will be made to the state's mask mandate until at least June 15.

In Oregon, where business restrictions are still very much in place, state regulators are actually moving to keep an existing, soon-to-expire mask mandate on the books with no expiration date in sight.

Come May 4, a temporary masking requirement issued by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Oregon OSHA) will expire. That rule requires employers to ensure all individuals in the workplace—including employees, customers, clients, and vendors—wear face coverings.

In February, the agency started soliciting comments on a proposed rule that would extend a number of workplace safety regulations, including the mask mandate.

Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood told the Associated Press this week that while the mask mandate will be repealed eventually, "it might not need to go away at exactly the same time the [governor's] State of Emergency is lifted."

The proposal to make this mask mandate open-ended has sparked a major backlash, reported the Associated Press, with many people expressing concern that the rule comes with no set expiration date or specific conditions for when it would be repealed.

Bureaucrats in Michigan, as Reason reported last week, have likewise moved to make a number of emergency pandemic regulations open-ended, including the state's mask mandate.

Last Friday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) ended the state's "dial" system of business restrictions, turning the power of pandemic regulation over to local governments. A comprehensive state mask mandate—requiring everyone to wear face coverings when in indoor public spaces—has also been retracted.

However, the governor has kept in place a statewide requirement that people wear masks when in schools, childcare facilities, hospitals, government buildings, and personal service businesses like nail salons.

If these states are any guide, mask mandates will likely be the last pandemic policy to go in many Blue states. This perhaps shouldn't be surprising.

Whereas business owners have every interest in pushing for the repeal of costly restrictions on their operations, individual citizens are going to be less organized and less invested in ditching the requirement that they cover their faces in public.

But the sticking power of a mask mandate does not make the policy necessary or wise. The case for face coverings in public evaporates as the population becomes vaccinated.

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  1. All with no evidence of mask efficacy.

    1. Not for viruses, but very efficaceous in controlling half the population.

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    2. …and they can only have a chance of being effective if one buy’s the asymptomatic spread bullshit (0.7% spread doesn’t seem like much to worry about)

      1. I think that may be what is most maddening to me at this point. We are never going to eliminate all risk from this virus, it’s here to stay. What should be happening is people realizing we have gotten to the point where the risk is in line with risks we have always accepted and thought very little about and going back to normal living. Instead we have all these people still pretending it’s possible to contain or control and that we need to prevent every infection we possibly can. Seems to me that approach was obviously not going to work somewhere around a year ago.

        1. I agree with Zeb.

          It’s also infuriating to me to read statements such as Newsom’s “continue the practices that got us here—wearing masks and getting vaccinated.”

          The latter – vaccines – have well-documented high to very high efficacy against COVID based on double-blind trials.

          The former – particularly if we’re talking about the cloth masks that most people wear – have theories about mechanisms of action as source control with benchtop lab studies that support lessening of large respiratory droplets. And that might not matter much if fine aerosols are in fact the main way that this virus spreads. It could even be counterproductive – or at least offset any benefit from droplet control – if cloth masks have a nebulizing effect that turns large droplets into aerosols. That’s because aerosols stay in the air longer. (Protecting the wearer has been studied for other respiratory viruses such as influenza, with varying results that indicate either no protection or very little.) It’s tough to prove a negative, but observational reality of plenty of SARS-CoV-2 spread even after widespread mask wearing suggests that the efficacy of cloth masks is somewhere between none and really low.

          The only way that vaccines and cloth masks should be mentioned in the same sentence as COVID mitigants is if someone is contrasting the strong evidence base and high efficacy of vaccines vs. the limited evidence base and low (at best) efficacy of cloth masks.

        2. I agree. I researched pandemics a few years ago and was shocked to see that tens of thousands people die of the flu each year, and that those estimates are likely underestimates because they don’t track and attribute adult deaths from flu like they do covid. I remember no discussion in my life about worry from seasonal influenza deaths. In 2017, some 187 young children died of the flu. The CDC estimated that something like 270 young children died of coivd. Surely a tragedy, but not an unusual one. Life has always been dangerous, but being alive in America today is about as safe a place and time to be living than you could ever have hoped for in the history of the world.

    3. The infuriating part is there is no standard for masks. CN95, standard N95, surgical N95, those cheap disposable things, and whatever aunt Millie puts together on her sewing machine are all equal in the eyes of the Mask Nazis.

  2. There was a time when Reason decried the illegality of wearing a mask in public.

    1. Pre 9-11 covid mindset.

    2. That’s libertarianism for you. It should not be illegal to wear a mask or to not wear a mask. It isn’t the wearing of a mask or not that is the problem, it is the government mandate.

      Similarly, when Chinese officials realize how badly they screwed themselves and replace their up to one child policy (now two) with an at least two child policy, that will be similarly wrong.

      1. I’d watch that porno.

      2. The issue of wearing masks in public it has, for a while, permitted widespread violence against people with no possibility of protection of said people.

        Need to have more masked people who are packing to deal with the other masked douches.

  3. Seems to me, in Michigan at least, the burden will remain on business owners, not the individual –>

    Question is, are the costs to businesses of complying worth pushing back?

    1. Thanks for the link; I wonder the same. She is going to extend her emergency powers and wield as much authority as she can for as long as she can. Unfortunately, all too many people in Michigan, especially the urban centers down State, seem to accept all of this quite readily. As for business owners, I think they have taken a financial beating and may be willing to acquiesce just to stay open. I honestly don’t believe the governor even considers what this is costing small entrepreneurs; that would not be on her bureaucratic radar.

  4. Meanwhile, in Michigan:

    Seems she has about the same approval rating as Cuomo [53%], especially in around major urban centers; and they both face scandals, him for potentiating the deaths of thousands of nursing home residents and then hiding it; her for also hiding data and firing the state health director with a pay off to keep quiet.

    I fully expect they will both be reelected.

    1. Well, you can’t fix stupid. With the average intelligence and independent thought process of a barnacle, it can take them a while to all march in step but it takes twice the effort to pry them loose once they are on message. There’s little which is more sad to me on a human level than seeing someone walking down the street without another human in sight, yet still obediently wearing the obligatory covering. And there are enough of these to reelect both of these tyrants.

  5. The case for face coverings in public evaporates as the population becomes vaccinated.

    Fascism, straight-up.

  6. Isn’t getting rid of travel and business restrictions before getting rid of masks the correct order to do things in? It makes way more sense than saying you don’t have to wear masks, but you can’t go anywhere. Masks are so effective that we probably could have gotten away without any travel restrictions at all if not for those morons who wouldn’t wear them.

    It’s kind of pathetic that some people won’t wear masks without a mandate to force them to. It’s the kind of thing that people should just do without being told to. But I suppose it’s like reckless and drunken driving. Some people think they have a right to endanger others, and act like the government is oppressing them when it arrests them for their blatant violation of the non-aggression principle.

    1. Since decades of research prior to April 2020 showed that masks don’t prevent community spread, your Scientism doesn’t really apply here.

      1. @Red Rocks White Privilege

        Actually most research before 2020 shows that masks have always been highly effective at preventing community spread. For example, in 2011 it was found that masks were highly effective at preventing the spread of the flu as well (T. Jefferson et al., Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 7, CD006207 (2011). Aiello et al. found similar results in 2010.

        Masks have always been effective at preventing spread. Most of the evidence that they don’t was due to distorted evidence. For example, an article by Denis Rancourt frequently cited studies that showed masks work and cherry-picked lines from them to make it sound like masks didn’t work.

        1. From your first cite:

          “Simple and low-cost interventions would be useful for reducing transmission of epidemic respiratory viruses. Routine long-term implementation of some measures assessed might be difficult without the threat of an epidemic.”–What happened in the fall of 2020?

          From Aiello: “Both intervention groups compared to the control showed cumulative reductions in rates of influenza over the study period, although results did not reach statistical significance. Generalizability limited to similar settings and age groups.”–Welp.

          1. Shhhh! Ghatanathoah needs their security blanket.

        2. “Actually most research before 2020 shows that masks have always been highly effective at preventing community spread”

          The CDC humbly disagrees:

          In community and home settings, the use of facemasks and respirators generally are not recommended. However, for certain circumstances as described in Table 1, a facemask or respirator may be considered, specifically for persons at increased risk of severe illness from influenza.
          Use of N95 respirators or facemasks generally is not recommended for workers in non-healthcare occupational settings for general work activities.

    2. Why do you think masks are particularly effective? Seems to me that most research indicates that they are at best marginally effective and possibly counterproductive. And that doesn’t even consider the significant psychological, physical and social harm they cause.
      If you can point to any studies looking at real world data showing that masking, as people actually do it in the real world, has made any difference in the trajectory of the epidemic, I’d like to see them.

      1. There isn’t any.

        1. That has been and continues to be my conclusion as well. Everything I’ve looked at that supposedly proves that masks are great is garbage science. But I won’t rule out the possibility that there is something I haven’t seen.

          1. I looked for studies…didn’t find much. The best one I found, which had some actual hard numbers, had to do with the size of spit/mucus droplets that masks stop (I forget, but maybe this was around 30%, dont quote me) and suggested that any covid viruses attached to those droplets would also likely be stopped. So to me that isn’t saying a whole lot.

            I did, however, find a UCSF scientist cite to an anecdote about a guy on a flight who had covid and didn’t give it to the people next to him. And the best “evidence” he pointed to was a hairdresser who had it and gave it to her family but not her customers…turns out they only tested half the customers (and seemed to ignore the fact that living with someone is different than cutting their hair).

            Still, I had always thought masks were effective, even when Government said not to wear masks because they weren’t effective. I think a 1% effectiveness of masks to prevent covid transmission sounds entirely plausible, but what is the real number?

      2. I would love to see an inflection point in case/hospitalization/death rates that can be tied to mask mandates. Can the merchants of panic porn show me just one such point?

        1. Yeah, we have a full year of data now. If masks are super-effective like Thingy up there seems to think, it should be pretty easy to show where masks or mask mandates made the difference.

    3. Isn’t that a risk with driving in general? Have you quit driving or allowing the city to transport you via vehicle since it endangers others? I hope you’re not that pathetic to keep on mechanical transportation..

      1. Based on his diatribe, I assume that the OP considers reckless driving to be five miles under the limit or above, and drunk driving to mean getting in your car after a swish of listerine.

      2. @MT-Man

        Everything in life involves risk to yourself and others, but it is generally agreed that there is some threshold of risk to others where you violate the NAP if you pass beyond it. Obviously where that threshold is is complicated and a matter of much debate.

        For instance, driving a car in normal circumstances involves a small risk of hitting and killing someone, but generally doesn’t violate the NAP. Driving a car if you are totally blind, or so drunk that you are going to pass out any minute, is a violation of the NAP. I think the evidence is that walking around unmasked during a pandemic is more similar to drunk driving than to normal driving.

        1. You are admitting that you are an idiot.

      1. We have a year of evidence that masks aren’t effective in stopping the spread of any virus. Every state that has eliminated its mask mandate in 2021 has seen improvement since then. And several states that imposed mask mandates last year got worse afterwards. Trying to stop a virus with a mask is like trying to stop mosquitos with a chain link fence. And Zeb was right to cite the physical, psychological, and social harm. It doesn’t do much good to tell people that they can go wherever they want as long as they wear an object that impairs their breathing and comfort.

    4. As has been said countless time before on this forum, before the issue become politicized in March 2020, all studies showed that masks were ineffective at controlling a respiratory virus. Even in controlled hospital with staff trained in proper mask usage, the evidence was mixed at best for cloth surgical masks. This is why the WHO specifically did not recommend masks.

      It’s unfortunate the editors of Reason have bought into the mask nonsense without requiring any evidence. For now, all one needs to do is to look at states like MA and CA that have stringent mask requirements in place for almost a year now, but yet still have among the highest infection rates to realize masks are, at best, very marginally effective.

      1. The reason it is has been said many times on this forum is that a large portion of people on this forum are completely mindkilled on this topic. I mean, a huge percentage of people on this forum keep insisting that the Reason staff are all full-blown woke SJW Biden supporters, despite the fact that no sane interpretation of their writings could lead to that conclusion. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence in their reading comprehension skills.

        The reason WHO and other organizations initially recommended against masks was out of fear that a recommendation would lead to a run on the supplies and result in a shortage of masks for health care workers. This was an idiotic decision on their part, “noble lies” like that serve to undermine their authority, even if they have short run benefits.

        The Reason editors bought into masks because the evidence at this point is overwhelming and the evidence against masks merely anecdotal. There are all kinds of studies, meta-analyses like Howard et. al, studies of animals like Chan, J. F. W. et al. I could literally spend all day listing them.

        1. The reason WHO and other organizations initially recommended against masks was out of fear that a recommendation would lead to a run on the supplies and result in a shortage of masks for health care workers.

          Fauci flat-out said in February 2020 that it wasn’t a significant threat and that people should focus on washing their hands. And of course, the run on supplies happened anyway.

        2. “The reason WHO and other organizations initially recommended against masks was out of fear that a recommendation would lead to a run on the supplies and result in a shortage of masks for health care workers. ”

          I’m aware Fauci later said that.

          It also sounds like utter bullshit, because (1) the guidance at the time acknowledged that N95’s were useful to protect the wearer and (2) it made no sense that we were realistically going to have any shortage of simple cloth masks and face coverings (including bandanas, scarves, neck gaiters, etc.). Point (1) was why we were supposed to not buy N95’s, but leave the limited (and short) supply for healthcare workers.

          Your claim also doesn’t address that WHO and similar organizations were sticking with their published, pre-COVID pandemic guidance regarding cloth masks.

        3. Ghatanathoah – You seem to have significant issue with reading comprehension yourself. I clearly said before March 2020 which means, well, before March 2020. The WHO and other organizations (including the CDC) have numerous documents from the 2010’s, 2000’s, 1990’s, and before that do not recommend cloth masks as effective at preventing community wide-transmission.

          The fact you state that studies on mice in contrived laboratory settings as proof of the effectiveness of real-world cloth mask usage in community settings, reveals much about your understanding of the issue.

  7. Good thing nobody is trying to frame gun deaths as a public health issue requiring a set of draconian, interminable, and ineffective policies. It’s not like mask mandates would set a precedent for expanding the administrative state or anything.

    1. Well, before the Communist Chinese Virus, there was a fairly strong correlation between masks and guns, especially in fast food places and banks.

  8. My Cali friends are downright paranoid about re-emerging into the sunlight.

    1. It still amazes me that so many people adopted this mindset. Young healthy people should be a lot more worried about getting hit by a car or any number of other things than covid. And we have known this to be the case for more than a year now.

      1. I’ve seen pairs of women walking together, only one is walking on the sidewalk and the other in the street in order to be six feet apart. The one walking in the street is putting herself at risk of being hit by a vehicle, but at least she won’t catch the virus by walking within six feet of her asymptomatic friend.

        1. But she is almost certain to catch it in the hospital they take her to after the “accident”.

    2. Ironically, sunlight destroys viruses.

    3. Funny you pretend you have “Cali” friends. Calling it “Cali” was the tipoff. No one in CA would befriend someone who uses that term.

  9. Thou shalt partake of the Sacrament of The Sacred Snot Rag! Or be burned at the stake like the heretic you are!!!

  10. Yeah I imagine that mask mandate will work in Denver and Boulder counties (and the other blue ones whichever they are) and not at all in Eastern and Western Colorado where people aren’t total shithead California transplants. Yeah that’s right I said it.

  11. My state (RI) is considering keeping the mask mandate in place until the end of the year and then keeping it in place permanently during flu season (November through March or April I guess). I, on the other hand, am considering moving.

    1. Please don’t put OR on your list. We’d like to keep people alive and you don’t sound like you’re on board with that concept.

      1. DigMed you have blood on your hands for not wearing a mask each and every flu season you’ve lived through. You can escort yourself to the county jail now, the public will be safer.

    2. Welcome to Florida.

  12. This is great. They are giving us the data that we need to show the harms of masks. Very early on it was only statistical noise difference between the two groups, but now it’s getting more and more pronounced: if you have mask mandates your outcomes are worse.

  13. These idiots are going to allow mask wearing to become a national issue in the 2022 elections. They are going to jam people via fucking OSHA, who anyone with a business knows are a bunch of pricks already. So your worst employee will snitch you out because the receptionist didn’t wear a mask? Or a client meeting?

    This is a giant loser issue and will enable the GOP to win the house pretty convincingly and maybe sneak the senate. Man, the Dems are gonna be bent when President DeSantis has majorities and they have destroyed the filibuster.

    Personally, this is a reason I’ve just moved out of CA. Fucking mask idiots everywhere. It’s turned people into colossal pricks. Our society is now run by a bunch of Howard Hughes hypochondriacs without the talent. It’s awful.

    1. It will be particularly ironic if OSHA starts requiring masks. Before all of this nonsense, you could get in trouble with OSHA for making employees wear masks without a proper health and risk assessment. PPE is supposed to be a last resort if risks can’t be mitigated through other measures.

      1. For masks specifically, doesn’t OSHA also have overall detailed standards? NIOSH-rated N95’s, evidence that the harmful particulates in question will be stopped by said N95, etc.

        Plus, as Zeb indicates, training and fit testing intended to make sure that the N95’s are actually used properly.

        1. Minor detail; these are NOT masks, they are “cloth face coverings”.

  14. There was a time when Reason decried the illegality of wearing a mask in public.

  15. I can’t wait to explain to my future children why they need to take off their shoes but leave the mask on at the airport.

    1. Should be a no-brainer.

    2. Why would you take a child to a constitution-free zone like an airport?

  16. Unfortunately mask usage long ago lost any solid foundation in science and morphed into a moral movement. As such, I foresee strong pressure in blue states to make masks a permanent part of life going forward, at least from Sep thru March every year.

    1. So, the science and the success of mask wearing makes no difference to you, then. Got it.

      1. lying by retaliating with unfounded claims is not a comnent Troll

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