WASHINGTON — It’s going to feel like a whole new D.C. starting on Tuesday, March 1, as the indoor mask mandate expires in most settings just before the stroke of midnight on Monday.
Mayor Muriel Bowser cited the District's decline in COVID positive cases and rising vaccination rates among the reasons she is partially lifting the mask mandate. But the rules still call for face coverings in a handful of public places.
Can I go maskless indoors in D.C. starting Tuesday?
Are there some places that will still require masks to be worn?
The answer to both questions is yes.
WHAT WE FOUND:
According to the latest CDC guidance on masks, communities with a low rate of transmission can drop most of their mask mandates, including in schools and public transportation. The CDC COVID-19 County Check indicates that D.C. has now entered low community transmission category.
Still, Mayor Bowser said the move to remove masks will happen gradually in the District. According to section 3 of the Mayor’s Order signed Feb. 14, masks are no longer required in the following indoor spaces:
- Restaurants and bars
- Sports and entertainment arenas
- Gyms, recreation centers and athletic facilities
- Houses of worship
- Grocery stores and other retailers
“Personally, I hate wearing masks so I’ve stayed away so I don’t have to put it on, but I have it right here,” D.C. resident Karin Edget said about the change, while pointing to the mask around her neck. “And another one in my pocket just so I can exist in this world and make others feel safe.”
According to the order, face coverings are still required in:
- DC Government offices that serve the public (such as DMV and DCRA)
- Day care facilities
- Health care facilities
- Congregate settings like nursing homes and dorms
- Public transit, taxis and rideshares (passengers and drivers)
Ronnie Ford manages the Sherman Williams paint store on Barrack Row.
“I don’t think we’ll fully be out of not wearing a mask," he said. "The customers can come in without a mask. But I’ll still wear one because I have a little one and I’m trying to be overprotective of him.”
If you’re heading out to eat or shop in D.C., you should keep a mask handy. According to the order, all private businesses still have a right to require masks of workers and customers.
WUSA9 reached out to DC Health and the mayor's office to find out what metrics or factors would trigger a return to a mask mandate, but we did not hear back by the time of publication.