Washington D.C. Easing Its Indoor Mask Mandate, Mayor Says

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D.C. eases its indoor mask mandate, but still recommends masking up.

Visitors will no longer need to wear a mask when touring the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, but will still need one if they ride a Metro train to get there.
Visitors will no longer need to wear a mask when touring the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, but will still need one if they ride a Metro train to get there.Credit…Win Mcnamee/Getty Images
  • Nov. 16, 2021, 3:03 p.m. ET

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington said on Tuesday that an indoor mask mandate in the nation’s capital would be eased on Nov. 22, reflecting a shift away from mask requirements as coronavirus vaccination rates continue to rise and infections fueled by the Delta variant subside in the city.

About 88 percent of the District of Columbia’s adult residents have received at least one vaccine dose, according to city health officials.

Masks will still be required in certain circumstances, including on public transportation, inside school buildings and in congregate living facilities like nursing homes, college dormitories and jails.

Ms. Bowser said the easing of the mandate did not mean that people should stop wearing masks entirely. “It does mean that we’re shifting the government’s response to providing you this risk-based information, and recommending layering strategies, as the best way to protect yourself and the community,” she said during a news conference.

Washington imposed its current mask mandate in July after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised everyone, whether vaccinated or not, to resume wearing face coverings in indoor public spaces if they lived in an area where the virus was spreading rapidly. The agency defined those areas as places that reported more than 50 new infections for every 100,000 residents over the previous seven days, or where more than 8 percent of tests had come back positive over that period.

As of Tuesday, the District of Columbia was above that threshold, with 81 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to the C.D.C.

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