Topline

Just 37% of US adults say they’re bothered when people around them in public don’t wear masks, a drop of 35 percentage points since 2020, according to a survey published Wednesday by Pew Research Group reflecting increasingly relaxed attitudes toward masking among both Republicans and Democrats.

Key Facts

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The proportion of people who said they were bothered when others didn’t mask in public fell from 55% in November 2020 to 18% in May 2022 among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and from 87% to 52% among Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents, Pew found.

However, most Americans are still happy to mask up when businesses ask them to—the proportion of Americans bothered when businesses require masking shifted slightly from 28% in November 2020 to 32% in May 2022, rising from 36% to 52% among Republicans and falling slightly from 20% to 16% among Democrats.

The proportion of Americans who wore masks all or most of the time while in businesses plunged from 61% in January’s omicron surge to 30% in May, reflecting a dramatic decline in Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths over that period.

Though mask-wearing behavior remains highly polarized, both Republicans and Democrats have masked less since the initial omicron surge subsided—Pew found mask-wearing in businesses fell from 79% in January to 42% in May among Democrats and from 39% to 14% among Republicans.

Pew found extreme division over the question of mask mandates for transport—57% of US adults said masks should be required on planes and public transport, including 80% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans.

Pew surveyed 10,282 US adults from May 2-8.