Officials in Washington D.C. under the direction of Mayor Muriel Bowser have made the decision to lift the city’s indoor mask mandate, leaving residents and visitors, and workers to follow present guidelines and still requiring masks to be worn in public spaces and other settings where people gather to protect against the spreading of COVID-19.
The decision, announced in a statement by Mayor Bowser on Tuesday (November 16th), means that the mask mandate will cease on Monday, November 22nd. Masks will still be required, regardless of vaccination for those riding public transportation and for those using rideshare vehicles. They also will be required inside child care facilities, schools, nursing homes, correctional facilities, and shelters. Masks will also be required at city government facilities where they and the public interact. “I want to be very clear: This does not mean that people should stop, that everyone needs to stop, wearing their mask. But it does mean that we’re shifting the government’s response,” Mayor Bowser said. The mask mandate was instituted in July in response to the rise of the delta variant of COVID-19 infections in the District, but the recent daily case rate has been deemed as moderate in relation to the city’s board of health.
Mayor Bowser has spoken about the city’s move towards treating COVID-19 in a new way. “What you’ll hear discussed across the nation is, we’re moving from a pandemic to an endemic,” she said recently. “[…] I anticipate that’s where we’ll be moving too. Rather than the government telling you what you need to do to keep safe, you will evaluate risk and act accordingly.” The mayor and D.C. Health officials still urge residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible, especially as the winter months are setting in. “We are learning to live with COVID,” DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said. Further guidance will be available on D.C. Health’s website.