Smithsonian to require masks indoors once again

Starting Friday, July 30, the Smithsonian will require all visitors 2 and older to wear face masks in its museums and indoor spaces regardless of their vaccination status.

The change, announced in a news release Thursday, comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week rolled out new face-covering guidelines, recommending masks in indoor settings in areas where COVID-19 is more rapidly spreading in part due to the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

In D.C., COVID-19 transmission is now considered “substantial,” according to the updated CDC’s metrics, the threshold at which masks are once again recommended.

The Smithsonian, which began a gradual reopening of its museums in May, stopped requiring masks indoor for fully vaccinated visitors on June 28.

The new mask mandate does not apply to fully vaccinated visitors in outdoor areas of the National Zoo and the Smithsonian’s outdoor gardens. However, all zoo visitors must mask up to visit indoor areas, including restrooms.

The change in mask policy comes as the Smithsonian had been returning to a semblance of normal, doing away with timed-entry passes as part of its phased reopening.

Already set to reopen Friday for the first time since March 2020 are the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Building, which is also known as the “Castle.”

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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