Pandemic & Planning

States With The Fewest, And The Most COVID Restrictions

As vaccines roll-out, is it still too early to ease up on safety protocols?

New market research from measures the degree to which states are easing, or increasing, restrictions to commerce.

With states opening up more but a full reopening only possible once most of the population has been vaccinated, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released updated rankings for the States with the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions, as well as accompanying videos and audio files.

To identify which states have the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 14 key metrics. Their data set ranges from whether restaurants are open to whether the state has required face masks in public and workplace temperature screenings. Below, you can see highlights from the report, along with a WalletHub Q&A.

States with the Fewest Restrictions States with the Most Restrictions 
1. Iowa42. Washington
2. South Carolina43. Colorado
3. Oklahoma44. New Mexico
4. Idaho45. North Carolina
5. South Dakota46. Massachusetts
6. Alaska47. California
7. Utah48. Hawaii
8. Florida49. District of Columbia
9. Tennessee50. Vermont
10. Montana51. Virginia

Note: Rankings are based on data available as of 12:30 p.m. ET on March 1, 2021.

Biggest Changes in Rank from the Previous Report

  • Idaho moved from 14 to 4, up 10 positions. This is due in part to the fact that the state has eased restrictions on large gatherings, has fully reopened restaurants and bars and has no mandate on face coverings in public.
  • Illinois moved from 42 to 30, up 12 positions. This is due in part to the fact that the state has reopened restaurants and bars while maintaining some service limits, has eased restrictions on large gatherings and has reopened non-essential businesses with limitations.
  • Wyoming moved from 16 to 24, down 8 positions. This is due in part to the fact that the state has imposed service limits for restaurants and bars, and has instituted new restrictions for non-essential businesses.
States should strictly enforce their COVID-19 restrictions because otherwise there is no incentive for people to follow the rules...

To view the full report and your state’s rank, please visit here:

Q&A with WalletHub

Analyst Jill Gonzalez answers questions about pandemic protocols

Should there be any vaccine-related COVID-19 restrictions?

“America should implement vaccine-related COVID-19 restrictions. The U.S. could follow the model of Israel, which has instituted a ‘Green Pass’ system. The ‘Green Pass’ allows people who have received both doses of the vaccine, as well as people who have already recovered from COVID-19, to visit certain institutions like gyms, hotels and entertainment venues that are closed to the general public. Having a ‘Green Pass’ in the U.S. would not only help to keep people safe, but it would also encourage more people to get vaccinated and it would help struggling industries open sooner. ”

Is there a correlation between how restrictive a state is and its unemployment rate?

“There is a moderate correlation between a state’s restrictiveness and its unemployment rate. WalletHub’s analysis found that 80% of states with few COVID-19 restrictions had low unemployment rates. This makes sense because states with fewer restrictions allow more places to open, which in turn provides more opportunities to work.”

Should states strictly enforce their COVID-19 restrictions?

“States should strictly enforce their COVID-19 restrictions because otherwise there is no incentive for people to follow the rules. If there are no consequences for disobeying a state’s mask mandate, for example, people will be more likely to try to enter crowded areas without masks, which in turn will contribute to the spread of the virus. Fines are a good deterrent to make sure Americans follow COVID-19 restrictions, and enforcement will also minimize the need for citizens to play the police.”

Why does Iowa rank as the state with the fewest coronavirus restrictions?

“Iowa ranks as the state with the fewest coronavirus restrictions in part because it is one of 15 states that have not taken any action on face coverings in public, and one of 21 states that have no limits on large gatherings. Iowa has reopened all non-essential businesses, and it is one of only 14 states that neither require nor recommend working from home.”

California has experienced the most coronavirus cases overall in the U.S. How has that impacted the state’s restrictions?

“California has the 5th most coronavirus restrictions in the U.S., and is one of only two states to ban all gatherings currently. Non-essential businesses in California are open with limits and the state is one of only a few with a statewide order for partial school closures.”