DC Revises Mask Rules Following CDC Guidance. What’s Required Now?

Image by Mr.TinDC licensed under Creative Commons.

THIS POST HAS BEEN REVISED.-Mayor Bowser’s office issued a mask order which it then revised. Read more here.

DC updated its mask rules (essentially amending the mayor’s order which is contemplated by the order itself) this week following CDC’s new guidance. The most significant change from the previous guidance was eliminating the requirement that residents, workers, and visitors “must wear a cloth face covering or mask when outdoors and coming into contact with another person outside of your household, such as being within six (6) feet.” Although some states like Maryland (though not Montgomery County) responded to the CDC guidance to remove outdoor mask mandates except for large events, including on outdoor dining, because it’s difficult to know vaccination status of everyone, it appears DC used the same rationale (it’s difficult to know vaccination status of everyone – less than 1/3 are fully vaccinated) to keep the rest of the outdoor mandate.

Still, because the rules that now exist are a patchwork of the original mayor’s order, the new DC Health guidance (sometimes couched as a requirement, sometimes couched more as guidance/recommendation) on masks and fully vaccinated people; and the other DC Health guidance, I thought it would be helpful to put this in a bulleted list. Italics refer to something not explicit in guidance but I feel is a logical extension.

Not Required to Wear a Mask

  • Actively eating, drinking or legally smoking
  • Vigorous outside exercise socially distant
    • Likely redundant
  • Walking (solo or w/ household) if fully vaccinated
  • Running (solo or w/ household) if fully vaccinated
  • Biking (solo or w/ household) if fully vaccinated
  • Roller-skating/rollerblading (solo or w/ household) if fully vaccinated
  • If not fully vaccinated, when leaving residence when not likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within 6 feet of another person
  • In the water at a pool
  • In a work shower or any authorized locker room
  • In enclosed private office
  • Giving speech (no one within 6 feet)
  • Speaking/translation for deaf/hard of hearing
  • If equipment for a job precludes wearing of mask
  • Performers at restaurants/entertainment venues if mask hinders performance (e.g., singer or instrument played through mouth
  • Visiting an uncrowded park or playground with members of household

If you’re Not fully Vaccinated (NOTE: not recommended if you’re high risk)

  • Small, casual outdoor gathering w/ family/friends if everyone who is not fully vaccinated is from your household

If you’re fully vaccinated

  • Small casual outdoor gathering w/ family/friends (including people you don’t normally socalize with)
  • Small casual indoor gathering in private setting (unless higher risk unvaccinated people present or unvaccinated people from multiple households

Required to Wear Mask

  • Inside establishments open to members of public such as
    • Businesses (restaurants, stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, hotels, barbershops, salons, spas)
    • Office buildings
    • Places of worship
    • Gyms
    • Museums, libraries
    • Movie theaters, including during the movie
      • Except for limited purpose and time of period necessary to consume food and beverages
  • In common areas of apartments/condos/co-op
  • Riding in
    • Taxi
    • Ride-share
    • Public transportation
  • Schools, school busses, and in any school-related activities
  • Construction site workers and visitors
  • Performers at restaurants/entertainment venues unless mask hinders performance (singer or instrument played through mouth)
  • Restaurant staff while working (indoor or outdoor)
  • Restaurant patrons while not eating or drinking (indoor or outdoor)
    • While ordering food
    • Prior to being served
    • After completion of meal (New in ABRA regulation: when tables have been cleared but before leaving)
    • When waiting in line outside of establishment
    • When traveling to use restroom              
  • Common area of pools, including pool decks
  • If not excepted above (unclear what this encompasses)
    • When attending a small, outdoor gathering with people outside your household when you’re not the only non-fully vaccinated person
    • Visits to a crowded park or playground
    • Mass gatherings
      • Organized Public events
      • Neighborhood gatherings
      • Festivals
      • Weddings
      • Sporting events as fans

Note: The Biden administration’s executive order for masking on Federal property is still in effect. As a result, on National Park Service land (National Mall, all the Circles, and many of DC’s parks), masks are required outdoors when “physical distancing cannot be maintained, including narrow or busy trails, overlooks, and historic homes.”

arguably not Required to Wear Mask

These areas seem like could be argued a mask not required, but not 100% clear

  • Walking, running, biking, rollerblading, visiting an uncrowded park/playground with a small group of friends/family when fully vaccinated
  • Walking, running, biking, roller-skating, visiting an uncrowded park/playground with a small group of friends/family when the only non-fully vaccinated people are from your household


One response to “DC Revises Mask Rules Following CDC Guidance. What’s Required Now?”

  1. […] DC residents, visitors, and workers. This new order significantly loosens mask requirements as compared to the DC Health mask guidance that was revised due to CDC’s new mask guidance of earlier […]

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