As mandate is lifted, DC businesses mixed on requiring masks indoors

Masks are no longer a requirement indoors in D.C., as Mayor Muriel Bowser’s mandate was lifted Monday. Despite that, some small businesses have decided to require customers to keep the layer of safety in place.

Going into the holiday season, the co-owner of the bookstore Politics & Prose wants to make sure customers feel safe browsing the shelves and that his staff remains healthy.

Politics & Prose posted this photo by a customer browsing while wearing a mask with the caption: “Tag a bud you want to go to the bookstore with this weekend 👀📚
📷 @mikaelaandherbooks”

“When we heard that the mayor was going to lift the general mask mandate, at this time of year, we were really scratching our heads about the reasoning behind that,” said Brad Graham.

The Politics & Prose flagship store on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest is larger than its other locations, but Graham said the cozy feeling that customers seek while finding what they want to read means the store must create a safe space for them to spend the time they need.

“We really appreciated having a city regulation, making masks mandatory — [that would] help with any customer who might question why we’re asking people to keep their masks on. Now, it just becomes a little harder,” Graham said.

But other businesses are leaving the masking choice up to the customer.

“We decided just to kindly ask, but not require it, because it seems the polite thing to do,” said Harry Biscarr, at Allen Custom Frames in Friendship Heights.

At Pacers Running, in Southeast, and Shop Made, at the Wharf, they’re requesting but not requiring masks; at Logan ACE Hardware, customers still need to mask up. However, at the Capitol Hill Hotel, guests are not required to wear a mask.

Bowser’s order still calls for masks to be required in some places, including:

  • Private businesses that want a mask requirement.
  • Public transit like buses and trains, inside train stations, in airports and ride-share vehicles.
  • Inside schools, child care facilities and libraries.
  • Congregate facilities, such as nursing homes/assisted living facilities, shelters, dorms/residences and correctional facilities.
  • D.C. government buildings where there is direct interaction between employees and the public (like a DMV service center; DHS service center, etc.).

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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