With the U.S. starting to open up more but a full reopening only possible once we achieve widespread vaccination, 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. Our 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. Oklahoma 42. Illinois
2. South Dakota 43. Hawaii
3. Iowa 44. North Carolina
4. Arkansas 45. Vermont
5. Florida 46. Washington
6. Utah 47. New Mexico
7. Missouri 48. District of Columbia
8. Wisconsin 49. Massachusetts
9. Alaska 50. Virginia
10. South Carolina 51. California

Note: Rankings are based on data available as of 12:30 p.m. ET on January 25, 2021.

Biggest Changes in Rank from the Previous Report

  • Montana moved from 28 to 13, up 15 positions. This is due in part to the fact that the state has lifted its restrictions on large gatherings and has reopened restaurants for dine-in service.
  • Arizona moved from 45 to 30, up 15 positions. This is due in part to the fact that the state has reopened bars while maintaining some service limits and has loosened restrictions on workplace temperature screenings.
  • Illinois moved from 23 to 42, down 19 positions. This is due in part to the fact that the state has limited large gatherings to 10 people or fewer, has closed restaurants and bars, and has imposed new service limits for non-essential businesses.

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

Q&A with WalletHub

How might the results of the election impact COVID-19 restrictions?

“The results of the election will likely bring about a more uniform COVID-19 response across the U.S., as the Biden administration will likely use the power of Federal Government dollars to encourage states to follow the same types of plans,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “We may also see an additional stimulus to help support people whose livelihoods are impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.”

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,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “WalletHub’s analysis found that 68% 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,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “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 Oklahoma rank as the state with the fewest coronavirus restrictions?

“Oklahoma ranks as the state with the fewest coronavirus restrictions in part because it is one of just four states that have not taken any action on face coverings in public, and one of 19 states that have no limits on large gatherings,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Oklahoma has reopened all non-essential businesses, and it is one of only 13 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 most coronavirus restrictions in the U.S., and is one of only four states to ban all gatherings currently,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “All non-essential businesses in California are closed. The state is one of only a few with a statewide order for partial school closures, as well as a limited quarantine, too.”

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