What Does the Law Say About Wearing Mask?

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Am I required by law to wear mask, following the governor’s state policy?

Yes, state law may require everyone to follow mask guidelines for public health safety. However, there is a line between “recommended” and “required by law.”

To date, most democratic states still mandate the wearing of masks in public places.

Recommended and required are not the same thing

The state may recommend or require mandatory masks depending on the condition. As of July 2021, most Republican states lifted mask mandates.

Democrat states like Illinois entered Phase 5, which means masks are recommended but not required. The Governor’s order clearly states, “… following are recommended prevention strategies.” [Illinois Phase 5]

However, the official guidelines also state, “Consult the CDC and IDPH websites for updated resources, guidelines, and rules related to COVID-19 safety.”

Masks are recommended but not required.

CDC does not make laws

It’s important to distinguish mandates over suggestions. For example, the Illinois guideline said to consult CDC guidelines. The word “guidelines” by itself does not mean “required.”

Private companies, such as hospitals, are currently free to make their own mask mandates

Boston 25 News spoke with a legal expert and an HR consultant who confirmed companies could mandate masks if they want to.

However, “The CDC guidance is not law. It’s guidance,” said Wendy Parmet, faculty director for the Center for Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University School of Law.

The CDC guidance is not law.

Tricky semantics between “required” and “guidelines”

The CDC guidelines saying unvaccinated people should wear masks can be tricky to mean it is a requirement.

Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated,” is stated as CDC guidelines—not federal law.

However, schools or companies may impose it within their jurisdiction.

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