The title of this article has been revised to avoid the suggestion that lawmakers who attended John Lewis’s funeral service in Atlanta were given special exemption by D.C.’s mayor. The order, passed three days before the funeral, already exempted government activity and the U.S. Capitol is not covered by the order.
Lawmakers who attended the funeral of late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in Atlanta earlier this week are exempt from Washington, D.C.’s, self-quarantine restrictions, according to District Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office.
According to the mayor’s July 24 order, titled “Requirement to Self-Quarantine After Non-Essential Travel During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” any residents who travel to “high-risk” areas for “non-essential” reasons must self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus.
The order mandates in part:
1. All residents and persons traveling to or from “high-risk areas” within the prior fourteen (14) days for non-essential travel must self-quarantine for fourteen (14) days following their return or arrival to the District.
2. Persons who are self-quarantining after non-essential travel must:
a. Stay at their residence or in a hotel room, leaving only for essential medical appointments or treatment or to obtain food and other essential goods when the delivery of food or other essential goods to their residence or hotel is not feasible;
b. Not invite or allow guests, other than caregivers, into their quarantined residence or hotel room; and
c. Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and seek appropriate medical advice or testing if COVID-19 symptoms arise.
3. Persons who are traveling through a “high-risk area,” such as through an airport or by vehicle, shall not be subject to this quarantine requirement.
The order, which remains in effect at least until Oct. 9, goes on to define “high-risk areas” as “locations where the seven (7)-day moving average daily new COVID-19 case rate is ten (10) or more per one hundred thousand (100,000) persons.”
By such a metric, the entire state of Georgia is considered “high-risk,” and a recent federal report listed it in the “red zone” because of its skyrocketing cases of the virus. Atlanta’s Fulton County averaged 228 cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days, according to most recent statistics from The New York Times.
Regarding why attendees at Lewis’ funeral escaped the strictures of self-quarantine, Bowser Press Secretary Susana Castillo characterized the ceremony as an “essential” government activity, telling Just the News on Friday, “Government activity is essential, and the Capitol of the United States is exempt from the Mayor’s Order.”
The mayor’s office still appears to deem the funerals of regular people non-essential activity, however. When asked whether attendees of non-government funerals in high-risk areas are still required to self-quarantine under the mayor’s order, Castillo responded simply, “Yes.”
Members of Congress are also exempt from Bowser’s recent edict mandating D.C. residents wear masks both in public indoor spaces and even outside if they “are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time[.]” Those who neglect to cover up expose themselves to the possibility of fines up to $1,000 per violation.
The order goes on to stipulate: “The enforcement provisions of this Order shall not be applied to persons in the judicial or legislative branches of the District government while those persons are on duty; and shall not apply to any employees of the federal government while they are on duty.”