DC Council member drafts emergency bill to reinstate vaccine check after Bowser lifts it

Ward 1 D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau said Tuesday that she has drafted an emergency bill to reinstate the requirement that District businesses check the vaccine status of patrons, one day after D.C. Muriel Bowser lifted it.

She also said she plans to ask Council Chairman Phil Mendelson for a special session so that the legislature doesn’t have to wait until its next scheduled meeting, on March 1, to vote on it.

“I have drafted an emergency bill to reinstate the vaccine mandate. Stay tuned,” Nadeau tweeted.

Under Bowser’s previous order, Tuesday was set to be the day that District businesses had to check for a second dose of the COVID vaccine for patrons over 12.

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

WTOP has reached out to Bowser’s office for comment.

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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