Not long after Montgomery County, Maryland, reinstated its mask mandate, D.C. is largely scaling back its own indoor masking as of Monday, per an order from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The change to the District’s approach to masking was released Friday. The city will shift to risk-based guidance from D.C. Health based on current community health metrics and a person’s individual risk and vaccination status.
“Now, I want to be very clear,” Bowser said on Friday. “This does not mean that … everyone needs to stop wearing their mask, but it does mean that we’re shifting the government’s response to providing you this risk-based information and recommending layering strategies as the best way to protect yourself and the community.”
The updated guidance doesn’t mean people in the District can stop wearing masks altogether.
Regardless of vaccination status, masks are still required some places:
- 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.).
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Gyms and places of worships can require masks if they want, but masks aren’t mandated. The news is welcomed as gyms in the District called for looser mask mandates with little success until now.
Almost 90% of District residents ages 12 and older and 99% of the area’s residents ages 65 and older have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Between the high number of people vaccinated and natural immunity increasing, the mayor’s office said COVID-19 will “likely” shift from pandemic to endemic.
The seven-day average of transmissions is 13.1 new daily cases per 100,000 people, according to the mayor’s order.
The order said 97% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in the district are unvaccinated against the virus.
The new order doesn’t discontinue previous orders regarding vaccines including one requiring adults who regularly spend time in the District’s schools and child care centers and student-athletes to get vaccinated.
District employees who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-10 are required to continue wearing masks inside government buildings or while on duty.
Knowingly violating the order could result in sanctions including civil fines of no more than $1,000.
D.C. Health will continue to post daily metrics monitoring the spread of COVID-19.
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WTOP’s Will Vitka contributed to this report.