Hotels, States Adjust to Changing U.S. Mask Regulations

One week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people vaccinated against Covid-19 could gather indoors without face masks, several—but not all—hotel chains have dropped masking requirements for vaccinated guests. 

Still, even as the American Hotel & Lodging Association this week eased masking requirements for vaccinated guests from its Safe Stay hotel guidelines for Covid-19 safety, other chains have kept them in place, and several states also have maintained indoor masking requirements that supersede the chains’ plans and the CDC’s announcement.

AHLA this week cited the CDC’s guidance in relaxing its Safe Stay guidelines to allow guests who have received a full course of the Covid-19 vaccine to be without masks indoors. 

“At this time, we are not asking hotels to require proof of vaccination status, but we do ask that all guests and workers, vaccinated or not, respect and honor these revised guidelines,” said AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers in a statement. “Unvaccinated guests should wear face-coverings and practice physical distancing at all times in public settings.”

Hotel employees should continue to wear masks indoors, Rogers said, but AHLA guidelines would permit vaccinated employees who work outdoors or outside of close contact with others could work without masks if hoteliers so chose. 

Several U.S. hotel chains this week updated their policies to allow vaccinated guests to go without face coverings in indoor common areas, including Best Western International, Choice Hotels, Hilton Worldwide and IHG Hotels & Resorts. Each said unvaccinated guests would continue to be required to wear masks indoors. 

Other chains had not updated that policy and at press time continued to require masks for all guests indoors, including Accor, Loews Hotels, Marriott International, Radisson Hotels, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

Five states—California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts and New Jersey—as well as Puerto Rico as of Friday maintained indoor mask mandates for all, including those who have received the Covid vaccine, according to the New York Times. Those state mandates supersede the CDC guidance as well as the policies of the hotels that in other states allow the vaccinated to go unmasked. (Maine and Massachusetts are set to drop the mask mandate next week, according to the Times, and NJ Advance Media on Friday reported New Jersey would do likewise. California is set to drop its mandate June 15.)

Conversely, 30 states as of May 21 have no state-level mask requirements. Even where there is no regulation that requires unvaccinated hotel guests to wear masks, no major hotel chain has dropped their own policy for unvaccinated guests at minimum to do so. Some counties and other jurisdictions within these states have mask regulations of their own, however. 

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