With little fanfare, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday eased mask mandates for those who have been fully vaccinated from the coronavirus.
The mayor’s office released updated guidance relating to masks in the District, with particular focus on those who have received both dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In the section titled “Special Rules for Persons Who are Fully Vaccinated,” the new guidance states that unless someone is showing COVID-19 symptoms or has been diagnosed with the disease, a fully vaccinated person can:
- Gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart;
- Gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks or staying six feet apart, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19;
- Gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask except in crowded settings or venues;
- Travel in the United States without pre-departure, post-arrival, or post-return testing for COVID-19, unless exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19;
- Resume activities following travel without need to self-quarantine;
- Travel internationally without getting tested beforehand or self-quarantining afterwards, unless the destination country requires such testing before arrival. However, even fully vaccinated persons must: (a) show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States; and (b) get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after return from international travel.
- Continue activities following exposure to someone with COVID-19, without need for testing or self-quarantine, unless the vaccinated person is symptomatic for COVID-19 or lives in a group setting such as a correctional institution, congregate care facility, or other group home, in which case self-quarantine for 14 days and testing are still required; and
- Be exempt from routine screening test requirements at any facility or among any group, unless they show symptoms of COVID-19 and unless the rules of that organization require screenings tests, notwithstanding vaccination status.
The new guidance also has specific rules for wearing masks indoors:
- Persons other than those who are fully vaccinated must wear a mask in the common areas of apartments, condominiums and cooperatives when passing through for a fleeting time. For events or longer stays in such common areas, even fully vaccinated people must continue to wear masks.
- Businesses, office buildings, and other establishments open to members of the public shall post signage on their exterior doors stating that a person may not enter unless the person is wearing a mask or is fully vaccinated. In addition, the business, office building, or other establishment shall exclude or attempt to eject persons who are not wearing masks or who remove their required masks, except in circumstances where the person is fully vaccinated and is permitted to conduct their activities without wearing a mask…
- Employers shall provide masks to their employees and may establish rules for mask wearing at their offices or facilities that are more stringent than the rules set forth herein.
- Businesses and other institutions are authorized to request to see someone’s vaccine card or other adequate proof of vaccination to verify whether they need to wear a mask within the establishment or at the event, consistent with any applicable federal or local law.
- If a business or other institution should require vaccination for admittance, registration, or employment, it must provide exceptions for those who are medically unable to be vaccinated and admit such persons, provided they are wearing a mask, on the other terms afforded to persons who are able to be vaccinated and who have been vaccinated, and must make such other accommodations for those whose sincerely held religious beliefs forbid them from being vaccinated. However, any one-time donation or incentive for those who are fully vaccinated need not be provided to those who are exempt from vaccination for medical or religious reasons.
The order still asks that unvaccinated people continue to wear a mask outdoors and in taxis, rideshares, and other public transit. Fully vaccinated people are exempt from this but only “in contained areas such as the conductor’s vehicle or in an information kiosk.”
Bowser’s decision to greatly ease mask requirements follows similar moves in Florida and other states.
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