Washington, D.C. Announces End to Mask, Vaccine Mandates

by TK Sanders

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser recently announced that the city will end its masking and vaccination requirements soon. Vaccination requirements to enter businesses or venues will end this week, while masking requirements will end district-wide on March 1.

Bowser noted a significant decrease in cases as justification for the decision. She also gave all credit to the vaccine, which she and the Democratic Party continue to tout as the only viable way out of the pandemic.

“COVID is not as deadly as it was,” she said while pointing out the effectiveness of vaccines. “Getting vaccinated and boosted, we can’t emphasize enough.”

Washington, D.C., to drop mask mandates in two weeks

Unvaccinated patrons wishing to enter a bar, restaurant, or business can do so starting Tuesday. Such restrictive mandates have been a source of constant controversy between Democratic and Republican lawmakers across the country. Some establishments in mandate-heavy cities like D.C. openly defied the mandate from day one, incurring fines and threats from the local government. It’s unclear as to whether the government will retroactively dismiss punishments against these establishments.

Masks will still be required in school, though, despite children enjoying the lowest COVID mortality rates of any age group. Teacher’s unions across the country have fought vigorously for the mandates, citing personal health concerns. The mayor did not give a date for when she might lift the school mask mandate. Public transit in D.C. will also continue masking requirements.

Bowser said that the city had seen a “precipitous drop” in cases as of late, which triggered the new guidance. The city said that cases dropped by 90 percent and hospitalizations dropped by 95 percent since the Omicron peak. Several Democratic governors, in states like New York and New Jersey, have also announced the lifting of mask mandates in recent days.

On the federal level, the Biden White House continues to follow the CDC’s strict guidance, which requires masking in areas with high amounts of transmission. Many Republican lawmakers at the state level do not adhere to that guidance, though, implementing regulations that reflect the sensibilities of their constituency more so than the federal government. New Republican governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, for example, made masks optional in schools.

“We continue to work with our school community,” Bowser said.

Private businesses are also dropping mandates across the country

Walmart announced last week that it will no longer enforce a mask mandate for fully vaccinated employees. They can still choose to wear a mask if they choose, though.

“Effective immediately, fully vaccinated associates will not be required to wear masks while working in any Walmart or Sam’s Club facility unless required by a state or local mandate or ordinance.”

Furthermore, Walmart said that by the end of this month employees will no longer need to submit to daily health screenings. However, this new caveat does not apply to workers in CA, NY, and VA. They’ll still need to participate in daily health screenings.