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Tipsheet

Mayor Bowser Announces End to DC's Indoor Mask Mandate in Most Public Places

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday that the district will be lifting its indoor mask mandate for most locations starting Nov. 22.

The mask mandate had been in place since July, when Bowser reinstated it due to a spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the highly infectious delta variant.

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"This does not mean that … everyone needs to stop wearing their mask, but 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," Bowser said during a news conference.

Face coverings will continue to be required on public transportation and in schools, congregate housing facilities and government buildings where the public interacts with employees. Private businesses will still be allowed to enforce a mask requirement.

Asked by a reporter if a mask mandate could return in the future, the mayor did not rule out the possibility.

"D.C. Health is always monitoring the experience we have with COVID, especially if this virus changes, and would require us to think about other emergency interventions … that could include a mask mandate," Bowser said.

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The city has not seen a rise in cases for at least a week, with the count remaining at about 80-90 cases a week for every 100,000 residents. Bowser and D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt both said that the high rate of vaccinations has helped to mitigate the severity of coronavirus infections.

"Despite the increase we're seeing in breakthrough infections ... we have not seen an increase in the number or proportion of fully vaccinated persons who are hospitalized," Nesbitt said. "Nearly 100 percent of COVID-19 related hospitalizations have occurred in unvaccinated persons."

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