DC’s indoor mask mandate to end Monday

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will lift the District’s indoor mask mandate on Monday, she said during a briefing on Tuesday.

The city will shift to risk-based guidance from D.C. Health based on current health metrics and a person’s vaccination status.

“Now, I want to be very clear,” Bowser said. “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.”

Updated guidance from D.C. Health will be posted to its website.

Masks will still be required in certain settings, regardless of vaccination status:

  • 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.).

Gyms: ‘We’re thrilled’

Gyms and places of worship can require masks if they want to, but they aren’t mandated to.

Gyms in particular have been clamoring for an end to the mask mandate in their facilities.

Bryan Myers, CEO and president of SolidCore, who has been advocating for an end to the mandate in gyms, praised the decision in a Tuesday statement.

“We’re thrilled to welcome our clients back into the studio under the new guidance,” Myers said. “As we have been doing for months, we will continue to offer vaccine-only classes across the District as vaccines remain the leading strategy to contain the spread of COVID-19. This will be game-changing for our clients’ comfort while working out and the health of our industry, all while keeping our community protected.”

In response to the mayor’s announcement, Monumental Sports & Entertainment said starting Monday, fans will no longer be required to wear masks at Capital One Arena, although they are encouraged “to continue practices which maintain their personal health and safety.”

Fans in “player-proximate seating areas” will be required to wear masks for Wizards games.

Arena workers and Monumental employee will also still be required to wear masks.

Asked whether or not the mask mandate could return, Bowser said officials will continue to watch the situation.

“D.C. Health is always monitoring the experience we have with COVID, especially if this virus changes, and would require us to think about other emergency interventions … that could include a mask mandate,” Bowser said.

“So if we need to come back to the public and say, ‘We think that we need to blunt transmission,’ or we see hospitalizations, or we see some other activity in the public health system, then we will we will come back to the public with that information. But hopefully that won’t happen.”

The mayor and D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt both reiterated that people should get vaccinated.

“The main takeaway from our data trends that we’ve seen is that vaccination has been highly effective in preventing severe illness and deaths from COVID-19 in the District of Columbia,” Nesbitt said. “And we consider it our most effective tool in our toolkit and ending this pandemic.”

Bowser said that the unvaccinated face the most serious dangers from COVID-19.

“Sadly, unvaccinated people are still getting sick from COVID and are still dying from COVID,” the mayor said. “Additionally, if you are eligible for a booster, you should get your booster.”

An update on the number of District residents who’ve been vaccinated was provided during the briefing.

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.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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