Washington D.C. to Impose New Mask Mandate Indoors

The announcement from Mayor Muriel Bowser came as some states and municipalities were quick to adopt the new C.D.C. guidelines while others expressed outrage.


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Masks are mandated indoors in Washington, D.C., as localities grapple with revised federal guidance.

People wearing masks in Union Station in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

July 29, 2021, 2:24 p.m. ET

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington said on Thursday that an indoor mask mandate would be reimposed in the nation’s capital on Saturday, becoming the latest jurisdiction to change public health protocols after new federal guidance advised even vaccinated people in coronavirus hot spots to resume wearing face coverings in indoor public spaces.

The announcement from Washington came as some states and municipalities were quick to update their own mask rules, while others expressed outrage, another example of the political tensions that have often accompanied public health precautions during the pandemic.

The new federal guidance also suggested masks for all children, staff members and visitors in schools, regardless of their vaccination status and community transmission of the virus.

The mayors of Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo., both Democrats, reinstated mask mandates; Atlanta’s took effect immediately and Kansas City’s will start on Aug. 2. Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada, a Democrat, ordered that residents in counties with high rates of transmission — including Clark County, home to Las Vegas — wear masks in public indoor spaces starting on Friday. In Minnesota, health and education officials urged all students, staff and visitors to wear masks in schools, but held off making the guidance a state requirement.

Gov. Laura Kelly of Kansas, a Democrat, announced a mask requirement for state employees and visitors in public areas of state government buildings, starting on Aug. 2. She also recommended masks for all residents in counties with high transmission rates, while acknowledging the frustrations of vaccinated people.

“I take no pleasure in asking you to put a mask on again,” she said at a news conference on Wednesday, the same day a mask requirement went into effect in a central Kansas school district.

On Wednesday, at least six Republican governors, Greg Abbott of Texas, Doug Ducey of Arizona, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, and Ron DeSantis of Florida, signaled their opposition to the recommendation.

“It’s very important that we say unequivocally, no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions, and no mandates,” Mr. DeSantis said in a speech at a gathering held by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative lobbying group.

Nine states — Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — had already banned or limited face mask mandates, leaving cities and counties with few options to fight the virus spread.

Some municipalities in states that have resisted mandates faced headwinds even before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its new guidance. On Monday St. Louis County, Mo., reinstated a mask mandate, only to face a lawsuit hours later from Eric Schmitt, the state’s Republican attorney general.

Major employers are also struggling with how best to interpret the new mask recommendations. Apple announced that it would require masks for customers and employees in more than half of its U.S. stores and in some corporate offices, and MGM Resorts International, the casino and hotel giant, said it would require all guests and visitors to wear masks indoors in public areas.

Other companies have pushed back their return-to-office dates, while some that have already relaxed mask restrictions, like WalMart and Kroger, had not indicated their plans as of Wednesday.

Lauren Hirsch and Jack Nicas contributed reporting.

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