Mask Whiplash

The subsiding wave of Omicron infections has given way to ebbing COVID-19 guidelines as a growing number of states—including those with Democratic governors— drop mask mandates, giving individuals and businesses the autonomy to decide when to mask.

Some employers see the uptick in vaccinations and lifting of mask mandates as a sign that remote workers will be back in person soon.

  • Walmart and Amazon announced fully vaccinated workers are permitted to go maskless and began rolling back COVID-related leave policies.
  • Bank executives are eager to bring workers back to the office, but have signaled some flexibility to avoid losing employees to other industries that may continue remote work.
  • Office attendance on Wall Street has been steadily rising and several large banks have dropped their mask requirements.
  • The New York Stock Exchange also announced masks would be optional on the trading floor for fully vaccinated individuals. 

Not everyone is rejoicing at newfound face freedoms. People who are immunocompromised or otherwise unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are discouraged at the thought of sacrificing the community safety that mask-wearing promotes. Health experts are concerned that lifting mandates too soon could threaten the progress being made as cases steadily decline.

In some states where COVID-19 restrictions are being scaled back, the mask mandates for schools have been left in place. Parents on both sides of the masking issue have escalated the debate, but recent polling suggests the majority of parents of school-aged children are in support of required mask wearing in schools.