States with the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions
All states have at least partially reopened after keeping non-essential businesses closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the U.S. is still far from a full reopening. Many states have put a hold on moving to the next stage of reopening, or have even reversed course and closed certain businesses again due to surges in the disease. In order to determine the states with the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 17 key metrics. Our data set ranges from whether restaurants have reopened 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. August 11|
|41||District of Columbia||36.61||-15|
Note: Rankings are based on data available as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday, September 14, 2020
Overtime Changes to State Social Distancing Measures
|State||Overall Rank, as of September 15||Overall Rank, as of August 11||Overall Rank, as of July 21||Overall Rank, as of July 7||Overall Rank, as of June 23||Overall Rank, as of June 9||Overall Rank, as of May 19||Overall Rank, as of May 5|
|District of Columbia||41||26||29||31||26||36||49||49|
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 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?
In order to identify the states that have the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 17 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 (~7.14 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;
- 0.5 – State requires the use of face coverings for certain employees;
- 0.25 – State allows local officials to require the use of public face coverings for the general public;
- 0 – Face coverings required for the general public.
- Travel Restrictions: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Note: This composite metric measures state Employee Restricted Travel enactment and Domestic Travel Limitations.
Employee Restricted Travel:
- 1 – State never had Employee Restricted Travel;
- 0.5 – State had but lifted Employee Restricted Travel;
- 0 – State has Employee Restricted Travel.
Domestic Travel Limitations:
- 1 – State never had Domestic Travel Limitations;
- 0.75 – State had imposed but lifted Domestic Travel Limitations;
- 0.5 – State has recommended Domestic Travel Limitations;
- 0 – State has imposed Domestic Travel Limitations by executive order.
- Large Gatherings Restrictions: Triple Weight (~10.71 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of policies that have banned large gatherings in a state.
- 1 – State never banned large gatherings;
- 0.8 – State had banned large gatherings but lifted all restrictions;
- 0.6 – State has expanded gatherings limit to over 25 participants;
- 0.4 – State has expanded gatherings limit to 25 participants or below 25 participants;
- 0.2 – State has banned gatherings of 5 or 10 participants or more;
- 0 – State has banned all gatherings.
- Statewide School Restart: Double Weight (~7.14 Points)
Note: This metric measures the status of public schools reopening.
- 1 – State-ordered in-person instruction part-time or full-time;
- 0.6 – Varies by school/district;
- 0.5 – Hybrid or remote instruction only;
- 0.25 – State-ordered regional closure in effect;
- 0 – State-ordered closure in effect.
- Reopening of Restaurants and Bars: Quadruple Weight (~14.29 Points)
Note: This composite metric measures whether a state has imposed mandatory closings of restaurants and bars to the public.
- 1 – State has never closed restaurants due to COVID-19;
- 0.75 – State had closed but fully re-opened restaurants;
- 0.5 – State had closed but reopened for limited dine-in service with capacity limits;
- 0.25 – Limited dine-in service or new service limits
- 0 – Closed except for takeout/delivery or newly closed to dine-in service.
- 1 – State has never closed bars due to COVID-19;
- 0.75 – State had closed but fully re-opened bars;
- 0.5 – New service limits imposed;
- 0 – Closed or newly closed.
- State Guidance on Customer Health Checks at Restaurants: Full Weight (~3.57 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 (~7.14 Points)
Note: This metric measures whether a state has imposed mandatory closings of non-essential businesses to the public.
- 1 – States that have never closed non-essential businesses;
- 0.8 – All non-essential businesses have fully reopened;
- 0.6 – Certain non-essential businesses reopened;
- 0.4 – Certain non-essential businesses opened or have been reopened with reduced capacity;
- 0.2 – Certain non-essential businesses are closed;
- 0 – All non-essential businesses are closed or newly closed.
- Legislation on Business Immunity from COVID-19 Claims: Double Weight (~7.14 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 pending legislation granting businesses immunity;
- 0 – State hasn’t passed laws giving business immunity.
- Working from Home Requirements/Recommendations: Double Weight (~7.14 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 (~1.79 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 (~10.71 Points)
Note: This metric measures whether a state has imposed mandatory quarantine policies.
- 1 – State never issued “Shelter in Place” order;
- 0.9 – States that have lifted all stay-at-home restrictions;
- 0.7 – Only high-risk groups restrictions;
- 0.5 – Limited statewide quarantine (religious exemptions and/or beaches or state parks are open);
- 0 – Statewide mandatory quarantine.
- Enforcement or Penalties for COVID-19 Legislation Non-Compliance: Half Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of state action regarding enforcement or penalties sanctioning COVID-19 legislation non-compliance.
- 1 – State has no penalties or enforcement against COVID-19 legislation non-compliance mentioned;
- 0 – State has penalties or enforcement against COVID-19 legislation non-compliance.
- Presence of Mandated Contact Tracing Program: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of state action regarding mandatory COVID-19 contact tracing program.
- 1 – Mandated contact tracing program not present or no actions mentioned;
- 0 – Contact tracing program mandatory.
- Presence of Multistate Agreements to Reopen: Full Weight (~3.57 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
- State Court Closure or Suspension: Double Weight (~7.14 Points)
Note: This metric measures whether a state has suspended or postponed state court proceedings:
- 1 – No change to court schedules on state or local level;
- 0.5 – Suspended in-person proceedings on the local level;
- 0 – Suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
- Guidance on Elective Surgery and Medical Procedures: Half Weight (~1.79 Points)
Note: This metric refers to whether states have issued guidance for hospitals and other medical facilities to reschedule nonessential surgeries to ease the demand for medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis, or previously had such guidance but lifted it.
- 1 – State never issued guidance on elective surgeries;
- 0.5 – State had but lifted guidance on elective surgeries;
- 0 – State has issued guidance on elective surgeries.
- Guidance for Assisted Living Facilities Related to COVID-19: Half Weight (~1.79 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.
- 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.
PPE (personal protective equipment):
- 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 National Governors Association, Kaiser Family Foundation, Ballotpedia, American College of Radiology, American College of Surgeons, American Academy of Ophthalmology, Editorial Projects in Education, the COVID Tracking Project, National Restaurant Association, Littler Mendelson, Portfolio Media, The National Academy for State Health Policy, Ogletree Deakins and news reports.
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