Washington, DC, is back to requiring masks be worn indoors

Washington, DC, is back to requiring masks be worn indoors



WASHINGTON (AP) — In the face of rising regional COVID-19 infection numbers, the nation’s capital is returning to mandatory indoor mask requirements, regardless of vaccination status.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser says the new regulations will kick in on Saturday and apply to everyone over age 2.

“I know that D.C. residents have been very closely following the public health guidelines, and they will embrace this,” Bowser said on Thursday. “We will continue to do what is necessary to keep D.C. safe.”

The announcement didn't come as a surprise considering rising local infection numbers and fresh guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now encourages vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas classified as having “substantial community transmission” levels. That includes Washington and the neighboring Virginia communities of Loudoun County and Alexandria. The city of Alexandria recently took the step of encouraging indoor masks for everyone, but has not made masks mandatory.

Just before Bowser’s announcement, the Smithsonian network of museums announced that it would unilaterally require all museum visitors to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

The city’s public health emergency expired this week, but a general state of public emergency remains in place, empowering Bowser to impose the new restrictions. She said the only exception to the mask requirement is when people are “actively eating and drinking,” but added that the city is not imposing any fresh limits on capacity or indoor social distancing.

Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said the new precautions will be paired with a renewed vaccination push, offering incentives to help boost lagging vaccination rates in Washington’s Black community. Nesbitt said that...

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