A Guide to the U.S. States With the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions

Posted on May 19 2020 - 4:21pm by Jameson Doris

Are restaurants starting to reopen in your area? Can you go to the beach? Are travel restrictions being lifted? For much of the country, the answer to all three of these questions is "yes." However, state by state, the number of restrictions placed on residents can vary wildly as President Donald Trump has left the process of reopening states largely to their governors.

At press time, the only U.S. state that isn't at least partially reopened yet is Connecticut, with the state scheduled to join the rest of the country in lifting some restrictions on May 20. 

Recently, WalletHub released a report which tracks U.S. states and ranks them based on how many coronavirus-related restrictions they still have in place. The information is regularly updated on the company's website and includes an interactive map, as well as videos.

In ranking the states, WalletHub scores each one based on 11 different key metrics—the higher the score, the fewer restrictions that state has. The 11 metrics are: 

  • Requirement to Wear a Face Mask in Public
  • Travel Restrictions
  • Large Gatherings Restrictions
  • Statewide School Restart
  • Reopening of Restaurants and Bars
  • Reopening of Non-Essential Businesses
  • Child Care Programs Reopening
  • Strictness of "Shelter-in-Place" Order
  • Presence of Multi-State Agreements to Reopen
  • Suspension or Postponement of Legislative Sessions
  • Guidance on Elective Surgery and Medical Procedures

"In order to stay safe in the states that have the fewest coronavirus restrictions, people can wear masks and gloves in public even if it's not required, and they can minimize the amount of time they spend around other people," said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub.

The state with the least restrictions? South Dakota. With a score of 86.74, South Dakota has remained in the top spot of the list in WalletHub's report since it was released largely due to the fact that it's one of only seven states that never required statewide school closures during the pandemic. Also, it's the only state that never announced a statewide closure of bars and restaurants.

"South Dakota has imposed some restrictions, like a ban on large gatherings, but is one of the first states lifting that limitation," said Gonzalez. "One major COVID-19 restriction that South Dakota still has in place is the state's guidance to postpone non-essential elective surgeries."

Below is WalletHub's interactive U.S. map which ranks every state, as well as Washington, D.C., based on the number of restrictions—No. 1 being the state with the least restrictions:

Source: WalletHub


To view the full report and for a breakdown of WalletHub's methodology, click here.


1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Kalos Business Solutions May 26, 2020 at 8:07 pm -

    Thank you for gathering and posting this information. It’s interesting to see how each state is responding and what impacts this will have for businesses and communities as this pandemic plays out. Thanks for sharing.