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DC Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate as Virus Cases Rise

July 29, 2021 by TWN Staff
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Face masks will once again be required indoors in the District of Columbia, a reversal of recent policy driven by new federal guidelines that recommend indoor masking in areas where transmission of the coronavirus is high.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the new policy Thursday afternoon, saying it will go into effect at 5 a.m. Saturday.

The new requirement will apply to everyone — vaccinated and unvaccinated — over the age of 2, she said.

The District stopped requiring masks in many settings for vaccinated people in May and all residents in June, though the city continued mandating masks on public transit and in schools and government buildings.

But earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised people in communities with more than 50 new cases per 100,000 residents per week to again wear masks indoors.

The District’s case rate has quadrupled recently, but still remains far below what it was at the height of the pandemic, the CDC said.

On a related note, the Smithsonian Institution announced Thursday that beginning Friday, all visitors to its museums and indoor spaces will be required to wear masks, even if they are vaccinated.

Like the District, the Smithsonian said it is making the change in policy based on the new CDC guidance.

In its statement Thursday, the Smithsonian said those who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear a mask in outdoor areas at the National Zoo and the Smithsonian’s outdoor gardens. 

All visitors, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask in restrooms, officials said.

“This change follows the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in areas of substantial transmission rates of COVID-19,” the statement read. “The Smithsonian welcomes visitors from all over the globe, and will require masks to protect the health and safety of staff and visitors at its locations in the Washington, D.C., area and in New York City.”

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