DC Council calls special session on vaccine mandate

The D.C. Council is scheduled to hold a special session Friday to debate and vote on a bill that would reinstate the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses in the District.

News of the council’s special session comes a day after Mayor Muriel Bowser’s requirement that District businesses check the vaccine status of patrons was lifted by the executive.

Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau said Tuesday that she had drafted an emergency bill to bring it back.

With the special session, the council doesn’t need to wait until March 1 to gather and vote on emergency legislation.

The meeting is slated for Friday at 10 a.m.

You can read the draft of Nadeau’s bill online.

The mayor’s office has not yet responded to request for comment WTOP made Tuesday.

According to a Washington Post poll, almost 75% of D.C. residents are in favor of the vaccine rules Bowser took away after less than a month.

Emergency legislation that the council considers requires nine votes to pass and cannot have a cost associated with it.

Nadeau blasted Bowser’s decision Monday, telling WTOP the city’s handling of the pandemic has felt “like a roller coaster,” and noting that late last year, Bowser ended the indoor mask requirement before having to reimpose it during the omicron surge.

D.C.’s vaccine mandate, Nadeau said, has enabled residents and visitors to feel safer “to go out to dinner, to go out for drinks, to go to the movies, to go shopping, because they haven’t had to worry about whether other people in that space are vaccinated.”

Monday’s announcement is particularly concerning, Nadeau said, because vaccines haven’t been rolled out for children younger than 5.

“Let’s get the kids vaccinated and talk about [lifting the vaccine requirement],” Nadeau said. “Let’s eradicate omicron and talk about it. But then, we need to prepare for the next variant. … We just don’t know what’s coming down the road.”

At-Large Council member Robert White, who’s running for mayor, also slammed the move.

“The vaccine mandate is working. Cases are just starting to go down and ending it now is premature,” White wrote on Twitter. “The vaccine mandate made it possible for many families, including mine, to feel a little comfort and calmed the anxiety of frontline workers and immunocompromised folks.”

WTOP’s Scott Gelman contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter 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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