DC to Drop Mandates on Masks, Proof of COVID Vaccination

Here's what changes and what will stay the same as the District tracks improvements in the fight against COVID-19

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D.C.'s mask mandate will be allowed to expire Feb. 28 as COVID-19 cases decline, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday. The end date was previously set, but the mayor could have opted to push it back. 

The expiration means that starting March 1, masks will no longer be required in the following places:

  • restaurants and bars
  • sports and entertainment venues
  • gyms
  • houses of worship
  • grocery stores
  • retail establishments
  • businesses
  • D.C. government facilities with no public interaction

Masks will continue to be required in the following places:

  • any private business that chooses to require masks
  • schools
  • child care facilities
  • healthcare, medical facilities
  • libraries
  • nursing homes, assisted living facilities
  • shelters, dorms
  • correctional facilities
  • public transit, taxis and ride share vehicles
  • D.C. government facilities that have direct interaction between employees and the public, such as DMV service centers

Any private business that wants to require use of masks by its employees or customers still will be able to do so. 

In addition, starting Tuesday, proof of vaccination will no longer be required in public places such as restaurants and entertainment venues. 

The announcements come as D.C. sees improvements in its COVID-19 metrics, and jurisdictions in the D.C. area and across the country lift restrictions. COVID-19 cases have dropped by more than 90% in the District since the height of the omicron wave, according to DC Health. There's also been a 95% reduction in hospitalizations.

Business owners in Adams Morgan responded today to Mayor Muriel Bowsers decision to lift vaccine requirements and indoor mask rules for some restaurants and bars in the city.

Bowser said pulling back mask mandates is not a premature move.

"We have to be nimble if something is to change, like it changed in December with a new, very contagious variant," she said. "I don't think any of us can say here that there won't be other variants that would require us to do something different."

The mayor explained why she isn’t rolling back requirements for DC Public Schools students and staff. 

“We continue to work with our school communities over what they think it will take to keep kids safe and in school,” she said. We thought our last group of little ones would have access to the vaccine in February, but it turns out it’s going to be some time later. So I don’t think we’ll have a decision about schools anytime soon.”

The District will scale back testing sites. After Feb. 26, COVID-19 testing will no longer be available at fire houses.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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