The District will lift the indoor mask requirement for most businesses as of Monday, Nov. 22.
Masks will still be required in settings such as public transit, schools and childcare settings, libraries, front-facing District government offices and congregate locations such as assisted living facilities.
The move comes as the District moves away from treating the COVID-19 virus as a pandemic and towards dealing with it as endemic, or a disease that is always present in a population or region.
As part of this transition, DC Health will move from a city-wide risk analysis to providing information to allow and individual to assess their own risk. Instead of reporting COVID data relative to District-wide reopening guidance, residents, visitors, and workers will be advised to follow risk-based guidance from that accounts for current health metrics and a person’s vaccination status.
The monitoring will be similar to what is used for influenza, Nesbitt said. Updated guidance will be posted on coronavirus.dc.gov by Monday, Nov. 22.
“This does not mean that everyone needs to stop wearing their mask,” Bowser said. “This does mean that we’re shifting the government’s response to providing you this risk-based information.”
DC first tried to lift the mandate in May, 2021, reimposing it in late July after case rates climbed from 1.5 to 8 cases per 100,000 over that month.
While masks are not longer required by the city in some locations, Bowser emphasized that private businesses can still decide to require masks indoors. That means that while the city no longer requires that masks be worn in gyms, yoga studios, houses of worship and restaurants, business owners and congregations can mandate masks on-site.
Masks Required in Some Settings
The city still requires masks at the following sites, regardless of vaccination status:
- In any private business that wants a mask requirement;
- On public transport like buses and trains, inside train stations, in airports, and while in ride share vehicles;
- Inside schools, childcare facilities, and libraries;
- At congregate facilities, such as nursing homes/assisted living facilities, shelters, dorms/residences, and correctional facilities; and
- In DC Government facilities where there is direct interaction between employees and the public (like the DMV or DHS service centers, for instance).
Nesbitt said that while businesses can require proof of vaccination, the District does not have a robust data set that allows them to produce a digital vaccination card. That’s largely because so many people were vaccinated in other jurisdictions. Nesbitt said that the District is working with neighboring jurisdicitons to see if a digital solution can be implemented.
There is no specific metric that will bring back the indoor mask requirement, Bowser said. DC Health is monitoring data associated with COVID and will recommend interventions as required, which could include the mask mandate.
As in other mid-Atlantic states, DC’s daily case rates have recently plateaued, Nesbitt said, remaining in the range of 11-13 cases per 100,000 since late October. 88.6 percent of all District residents aged 18 or better have received at least one dose of the vaccine; 61 of 16-17 year-olds and 64 percent of 12-15 year olds have at least their first innoculation. In the last two weeks, about 6.7 percent of 5 to 11 year-olds have received their first dose.
Nesbitt said nearly all the COVID-related hospitalizations have occured in unvaccinated people, showing how fully vaccinated people have a substatially lower risk of hsoptialization due to COVID-19. Death is extremely rare and usually occurs in people who are immunosuppressed or have complex medical histories.
Both Bowser and Nesbitt reminded residents that the strongest protection against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, and for those who are eligible to receive their booster shot or additional dose.
See the whole presentaiton and get data at coronavirus.dc.gov