The U.S. is making considerable progress with the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, and as a result states have been rolling back restrictions on business and gatherings. We still have months to go before we can achieve a full reopening across the U.S., but certain states are removing restrictions faster than others.
In order to determine the states with the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 13 key metrics. Our data set ranges from whether restaurants are open to whether the state has required face masks in public and workplace temperature screenings. Read on for the state ranking, additional insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
States with the Fewest COVID-19 Restrictions
|Overall Rank||State||Total Score||Delta in Overall Rank vs. March 2, 2021|
|50||District of Columbia||20.00||-1|
Note: Rankings are based on data available as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday, April 5, 2021.
Overtime Changes to State Social Distancing Measures
|State||Overall Rank, as of April 6, 2021||Overall Rank, as of March 2, 2021||Overall Rank, as of January 26, 2021||Overall Rank, as of October 6, 2020|
|District of Columbia||50||49||48||43|
Note: As the situation with the coronavirus pandemic has evolved, we have updated the methodology of this report to reflect the actions easing social distancing measures the most at the time of publication.
COVID-19 Death Rate vs Restrictions
Note: Rank 1 on the “COVID19 Death Rate Ranking” means fewest deaths between March 29, 2021 to April 4, 2021 and Rank 1 on “Fewest Restrictions Ranking” means the fewest restrictions in place.
Unemployment Ranking vs Restrictions Ranking
Note: Rank 1 on the “Unemployment Ranking” means lowest unemployment rate and Rank 1 on “Fewest Restrictions Ranking” means the fewest restrictions in place.
When deciding on how to manage restrictions, including when to lift them, states must consider the health of their citizens first and foremost. For more insight on this topic, WalletHub turned to a panel of experts. Click on the experts below to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:
- What are the top measures that can be taken in order to safely open the economy and prevent a second wave of coronavirus infections?
- What would be the consequences of opening the economy too early?
- What are the best ways to protect the population most at risk while resuming economic activity?
- What can individuals do to safely begin to get back to normal?
Ask the Experts
In order to identify the states that have the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 13 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the fewest restrictions.
We then determined the weighted average across all metrics to calculate an overall score for each state and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
- Requirement to Wear a Face Mask in Public: Double Weight (~9.30 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of state action requiring residents to wear a face mask in public.
- 1 – No state action on public face coverings;
- 0 – Face coverings required for the general public.
- Travel Restrictions: Full Weight (~4.65 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of state domestic travel limitations.
- 1 – No Traveler Quarantine in Place;
- 0.5 – Limited Traveler Quarantine in Place;
- 0 – Traveler Quarantine Mandate in Place.
- Large Gatherings Restrictions: Triple Weight (~13.95 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of policies that have banned large gatherings in a state.
- 1 – States that do not have bans on large gatherings;
- 0.7 – Allow gatherings of 50 and above with capacity limits;
- 0.5 – Allow gatherings between 25 and 50 people;
- 0.2 – Allow gatherings between 10 and 25 people;
- 0.1 – Allow gatherings of 10 or less people;
- 0 – All Gatherings Prohibited.
- Statewide School Restart: Double Weight (~9.30 Points)
Note: This metric measures the status of public schools reopening.
- 1 – Ordered open;
- 0.75 – Some grades ordered open;
- 0.5 – No order in effect;
- 0.25 – Partial closure in effect;
- 0 – Full closure in effect.
- Reopening of Restaurants and Bars: Quadruple Weight (~18.60 Points)
Note: This composite metric measures whether a state has imposed mandatory closings of restaurants and bars to the public.
- 1 – Restaurants are fully opened;
- 0.5 – Restaurants are open with service limits;
- 0 – Closed except for takeout/delivery.
- 1 – Bars are open;
- 0.5 – Bars are open with service limits;
- 0 – Closed.
- State Guidance on Customer Health Checks at Restaurants: Full Weight (~4.65 Points)
Note: This metric refers to whether states have issued guidance on customer health checks at restaurants.
- 1 – No requirement or recommendation for customer health checks at restaurants;
- 0 – Some form of requirement or recommendation for customer health checks at restaurants.
- Reopening of Non-Essential Businesses: Double Weight (~9.30 Points)
Note: This metric measures whether a state has imposed mandatory closings of non-essential businesses to the public.
- 1 – States in which Non-Essential Bussinesses are Fully Opened;
- 0.5 – Non-Essential Bussinesses are Opened with Limits;
- 0 – All Non-Essential Bussinesses Closed.
- Legislation on Business Immunity from COVID-19 Claims: Full Weight (~4.65 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of state action regarding legislation for ensuring businesses immunity against liability for any harm caused by COVID-19.
- 1 – State enacted legislation granting businesses immunity;
- 0.5 – State proposed legislation granting businesses immunity;
- 0 – State hasn’t passed or proposed laws giving business immunity.
- Working from Home Requirements/Recommendations: Full Weight (~4.65 Points)
Note: This binary metric refers to whether states have required or recommended working from home.
- 1 – State doesn’t require/recommend working from home;
- 0 – State requires/recommends working from home.
- Workplace Temperature Screening: Half Weight (~2.33 Points)
Note: This metric measures whether a state has required or recommended workplace temperature screening.
- 1 – Workplace temperature screening is not required;
- 0.75 – Workplace temperature screening is recommended for specified employers;
- 0.5 – Workplace temperature screening is recommended;
- 0.25 – Workplace temperature screening is required for specified employers;
- 0 – Workplace temperature screening is required.
- Strictness of “Shelter in Place” Order: Triple Weight (~13.95 Points)
Note: This metric measures whether a state has imposed mandatory quarantine policies.
- 1 – States with no “Shelter in Place” orders;
- 0.7 – Only high-risk groups restrictions;
- 0.5 – Limited statewide quarantine;
- 0 – Statewide mandatory quarantine.
- Presence of Multistate Agreements to Reopen: Half Weight (~2.33 Points)
Note: This metric measures the participation in Multistate Agreement or Regional Partnership by state.
- 1 – State is part of Multistate Agreement or Regional Partnership;
- 0 – State is not part of Multistate Agreement or Regional Partnership.
- Guidance for Assisted Living Facilities Related to COVID-19: Half Weight (~2.33 Points)
Note: This composite metric refers to whether states have issued guidance for assisted living facilities related to COVID-19.
- 1 – No guidance for visitation of assisted living facilities related to COVID-19;
- 0.6 – Recommend visitation restriction of assisted living facilities due to COVID-19;
- 0.3 – Recommend visitation ban of assisted living facilities due to COVID-19;
- 0 – Prohibit visitation of assisted living facilities due to COVID-19.
PPE (personal protective equipment):
- 1 – No guidance on staff screening of assisted living facilities related to COVID-19;
- 0.5 – Recommend staff screening of assisted living facilities due to COVID-19;
- 0 – Require staff screening of assisted living facilities due to COVID-19.
- 1 – No guidance on PPE (personal protective equipment) of assisted living facilities personnel related to COVID-19;
- 0.5 – Recommend PPE (personal protective equipment) of assisted living facilities personnel due to COVID-19;
- 0 – Require PPE (personal protective equipment) of assisted living facilities personnel due to COVID-19.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Ballotpedia, Editorial Projects in Education, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Restaurant Association, Littler Mendelson, Husch Blackwell and Ogletree Deakins.