Bowser reinstates indoor mask mandate for DC

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that she is reinstating the District’s indoor mask mandate and declared a state of emergency.

“I will reinstate a citywide mask order,” Bowser said during a briefing, and added that the city plans expanded testing during the winter surge of COVID-19.

Bowser’s order starts at 6 a.m. Tuesday. It will run until Jan. 31.

“And if we need to keep it on, then we’ll re-up it at that time,” Bowser said.

Asked whether or not she regrets dropping the indoor mask mandate, Bowser said she doesn’t “regret evolving with the virus, which is exactly what we’ve done throughout the virus.”

On the heels of Bowser’s announcement Monday, Monumental Sports said it will require anyone 2 years and older to wear a face covering at Capital One Arena.

The mayor said she was declaring a state of emergency “primarily to expand our administrative tools to make sure that we can do all the things that we need to do administratively, including buy goods and services, and make sure that we’re handling D.C. government operations in an urgent way.”

D.C. Health’s Patrick Ashley said the city has ordered more than a million rapid antigen test kits, and it has 42,000 on hand, with 200,000 antigen tests on the way.

“Starting this Wednesday, we will be able to offer those to individuals to D.C. residents across eight locations in the city,” Ashley said.

There are also 27 Test Yourself DC pick-up and drop-off sites. Nine new sites to pick up and drop off at-home PCR tests are being added.

In addition to the emergency order and mask mandate, winter break for D.C. Public Schools’ is being extended until Jan. 5 so that students, teachers and staff can pick up testing kits before a return to in-person learning.

According to officials, there are 100,000 tests available between DCPS and charter schools. They will be available for pickup Jan. 3 and Jan. 4. The agency will send information on pickups later.

Several DCPS schools have gone virtual as COVID-19 cases have risen in the District.

Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said that students returning in January aren’t required to show proof of a negative test.

Bowser also said that all D.C. employees, contractors, interns and grantees need to be fully vaccinated and get their booster. And there won’t be a test-out option.

A deadline for vaccination and the booster has not yet been set.

More information is available on the mayor’s plan online.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for 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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