In the wake of declining Covid-19 cases, more than half of states have dropped business mask mandates since late January. However, in most of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommend wearing masks indoors.

Masks are not restricted in most places. As of Tuesday, only five states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., still require masks to be worn in some or all settings. This is down from 12 states on Jan. 28. Some states have announced plans to lift their bans by the end of February or the beginning of March.

The lifting of restrictions is not without caveats. In New York, for example, masks must still be worn by individuals in public transportation, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters.

Washington will end its outdoor mask mandate on Feb. 18 and its indoor mask mandate in March, while many schools will continue to impose mask requirements for at least the next few weeks.

Nevada is taking a different approach. Democrat Steve Sisolak, the governor of the state, lifted the mask requirement in schools, medical settings, and businesses.

Experts say wearing a mask provides protection even if others around you are not. Immunocompromised individuals, however, have stated that lifting restrictions would make it unsafe to do basic activities, such as going to the grocery store.

Most states are seeing covid cases continue to decline, with the nationwide case average dropping to approximately 157,000 by Monday’s end of the day. Those numbers of Covid-19 patients come close to the peak of the delta surge in mid-September of about 167,000. Every day, there are almost 2,000 reported deaths in the country for nearly four weeks in a row.

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