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Is it Legal for the Government to Force Me to Wear a Mask?

If you are wondering if it is legal for the government to force you to wear a mask during the Coronavirus pandemic, the short answer is “yes.” This is because in times of national crisis, such as a global pandemic, governments have the authority to mandate things that otherwise would be questionable under normal circumstances. 

This makes sense, if you stop and think about the situation. Under normal times the government can legally ban smoking in public places because one person’s smoking can affect public health. Likewise, many private businesses have signs out front that read “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Adding the line “no mask” to the sign would be justifiable. That being said, there are some exceptions to government power.

Exceptions to Mask Mandate

Not surprisingly, there are some exceptions to any mandate issued by a government entity requiring the use of masks in public. This includes the inability to wear one due to health reasons or if the person is part of a protected class as determined by the law. A protected class could include someone with a disability. Examples of disabilities that would likely be permitted to not wear one is a person with autism who has sensory issues. Likewise, if someone has a medical issue — for example, a respiratory issue — that would prevent him or her from being able to wear a mask without suffering some type of risk, he or she may be excluded from the mandate. Notably, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) you cannot ask the person what the disability is as this information is protected under the law. 

Simply put, the government cannot force you to wear a face mask inside of your home, but if you are dealing with a space that pays taxes or is open to the general public, then they can. 

Constitutional Rights

Of note, there is no constitutional right protecting you from having to wear a face mask. Again, the government has the power to regulate its people in the name of safety. This is particularly true during a national emergency, such as the Coronavirus pandemic. In such a scenario, the state government has the authority to pass laws to protect its people under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states “Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

According to the American Bar Association (“ABA”) nearly 200 years of Supreme Court decisions, along with the 10th Amendment, grant state governments the primary authority to control the spread of dangerous diseases, such as the Coronavirus, within their jurisdictions. This includes setting quarantines, business restrictions, and requiring the use of face masks. 

Your Legal Questions Answered 

If you have other legal questions about face masks or other issues during the Coronavirus pandemic, it is best to speak with an experienced attorney to understand your rights and obligations during this unprecedented time. If you  or a loved one has been injured in a Nevada accident, whether or not the injury has to do with face masks, contact the experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at H&P Law. We have fought for the rights of the injured across the state of Nevada and will do the same for you.

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